Murry Pearson, Food Industry Executive and China Trade Pioneer, the first U.S. representative of the food industry to engage in diplomatic trade with China, and past president of the National Fisheries Institute, died on April 6, 2013, in the comfort of loving family.
He was 87.
Mr. Berger was a pioneer of the frozen food industry. In the early 1950's he founded Oceans of the World, one of the first frozen seafood companies and soon thereafter developed a trademark licensee program that enabled his firm to market Carnation brand seafoods. From 1955 - 1969, Oceans of the World developed as a major independent frozen food company. In 1969, he merged his company into Seabrook International Foods becoming president and chief operating officer. Seabrook became a full line producer and distributer of more than 200 different seafoods, vegetables and prepared foods sold under such labels as "Seabrook," "Carnation Seafoods," and "Kitchen Ready Foods" distributed in virtually every major supermarket and food service chain in the United States. The company actively imported and exported to and from 30 countries throughout the world.
In 1967, Mr. Berger, president and chief executive officer of Seabrook thought that we should be opening up trade with the Peoples Republic of China, and that it would be a matter of time before something happened. Through the Canadian Commerce Department, he found out how to go about asking for an invitation to the Canton Trade Fair, even though we did not have relations with China at the time. One of the things the Canadians advised him to do was to describe fully his intent, his company, and in this case, send annual reports. He began doing this twice a year, written in Chinese, with the help of his secretary, from 1967 until 1972 without response. In early 1972, he received a cable asking him to attend the Fair in Canton. After the signing of the Shanghai Communiqué on February 12, 1972 the first group of American businessman, 10 in all, attended the Spring Canton Trade Fair in China. Mr. Berger was the first U.S. representative of the food industry to trade at the Canton Fair. Following he was a director of the National Council for United States-China Trade, and Chairman of its Foods Import Committee.
In 1976, Seabrook International Foods was acquired by Springs Mills, Inc. and Mr. Berger became president and chief operating officer of the food division and a member of the Springs Mills Corporate Operating Committee.
Mr. Berger was an officer and trustee of a number of food industry and public service organizations, including serving as a President and Chairman of the Board of the National Fisheries Institute. It was during his tenure that the U.S. Congress enacted the 200 mile fishing limit protecting the U.S. shores. He served three terms for the U.S. Department of Interior as a member of the Outer Continental Shelf Advisory Board. He founded and served as chairman of the National Fisheries Scholarship Fund. He was a Director of the Ocean Trust Environmental Group and member of the Fish and Seafood Promotional Council. He was, past president of the American Seafood Distributers Association. He was a member of the New Jersey Economic Recovery Commission.
Murry Berger was born on January 24, 1926 to Charles and Fannie (Buck) Berger in Pittsburgh. Following graduation from McKeesport High School he attended Lehigh University until enlisting in the Army during World War II. He served as a combat infantryman in the European theater with the 66th Infantry Division throughout France, Belgium and Germany.
After his discharge from military service he earned a bachelor's degree from Duquesne University and a master's degree from Hofstra University. He was a member of the board of directors of Duquesne University, and was selected for its Century Club comprised of the University's 100 most outstanding alumni. He was a member of the International Advisory Board of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business and a trustee of the New Jersey Private College Fund and a trustee of Saint Peter's College Board of Regents.
Mr. Berger was first married, to Helen "Jerry" Berger, who passed unexpectedly in 1986. He is survived by, his devoted wife, Linda Berger; two sons, Dr. Lee Berger and Keith Berger; daughters-in-law Kathy and Joan; stepdaughters, Jena Boomhower, Lori Pfeifer; grandchildren, Michael, Stephen, Jay, Jeffery and Christopher; step grandchildren Carl, Erica and Isabelle Boomhower; two great-grandchildren, Julia and Abigail and two brothers, Arthur and Herbert Berger.
Murry Berger was of the "Greatest Generation." Born into the depression, he quickly learned responsibility and many ethical and moral lessons forged through his early life and military experiences, which he applied throughout his business career, as well as passed on as the patriarch of his family. He was an admired man for his dedication and contributions to his profession, as well as his generosity and guidance to others. Above all, he maintained a positive outlook on life expressed though wit and humor that was enjoyed, and will be most loved and remembered by his friends and family.
A Funeral Service will be held on Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 11 AM at Vander Plaat-Vermeulen Memorial Home, 530 High Mountain Road, Franklin Lakes.
Entombment George Washington Memorial Park, Paramus.
The family will receive family and friends on Thursday from 10-11 AM at the Funeral Home prior to the Service.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made in Murry's memory to Carl's Camp, Oasis - A Haven for Women and Children, 59 Mill Street, Paterson, New Jersey 07501.
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Published in The Record/Herald News on Apr. 9, 2013