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Val Roy Berryman

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Val Roy Berryman Obituary
Val Roy Berryman Williamston Val Roy Berryman passed away on January 11, 2013 after a courageous fight with bone cancer. Born February 15, 1940 in Garden City (Wayne County), MI, he graduated from Farmington High School in 1958 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Practice degree and a master's degree in sculpture at Michigan State University. He served in the National Guard from 1962-1968. While a graduate student he began working at the Michigan State University Museum; there he found his life's work, becoming the curator of history and 2013 would have been his 50th year at the museum. He loved his curatorial work -overseeing the development and care of historical collections, doing object-based research, sharing his deep knowledge of objects with the public, and mentoring scores of students, many of whom went on to museum-based careers. He especially loved to research and design exhibitions. Over his career he curated scores of exhibitions, large and small, and at venues that included the MSU Museum, a number of sites on the MSU campus, other museums and community sites in the Greater Lansing area, and annually for several years at the Michigan State Fair in Detroit. The range of exhibition topics reflected his wide interest in historical research and included ones on MSU football, MSU sesquicentennial, packaging, death and funeral traditions, agricultural life, Chinese material culture, and the recreation of a small town general store. Perhaps one of the ways Val will be best remembered by the general public and by a group of collectors around the world is through his interest in the history and study of Santa Claus and other Christmas traditions. Over the years he built a remarkable collection of ephemera and objects related to Santa Claus and Christmas traditions, sometimes traveling to the famed Christmas Markets in various towns of Europe to secure rare pieces. For many years he developed an annual exhibition on facets of Santa Claus history and traditions; the collection has been gifted to the MSU Museum where it will continue to serve as an invaluable resource for research and education. One of his first personal collecting loves was of stereoview photographs and, ironically, he was working on the exhibition Adventures in Time and the Third Dimension: Through the Stereoscope right up until the time of his hospitalization. A special tribute to Val will be held when the exhibition opens at the MSU Museum in February. He was predeceased by his parents Eugene Henry Berryman and Nina Lucille Berryman (Currie). He is survived by: his sister Donna Bowman and William Burton Bowman Jr., niece Tammy Rehring and her children Ryan and Jon, his aunt Norine Berryman, and a group of Museum colleagues who cared for him during his illness. Memorial gifts can be made to the Berryman History Collections Fund at the MSU Museum, Michigan State University, 535 Chestnut Road, Suite 300, East Lansing, MI 48824. Online condolences and memories can be shared at The family is being served by Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, East Lansing, Michigan. On line condolences may also be shared at

Published in Lansing State Journal on Jan. 20, 2013
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