Phillip Berry

Phillip Samuel Berry

Phillip Samuel Berry, pioneering champion of environmental law, passed away at home on Sunday, September 22, 2013, after a long battle with cancer. He was 76.


Phillip is survived by his wife Carla; brothers John, David, and Sam Jr.; sons David, Douglas, Dylan (Joyce), Nick, and Matthew (Donna); stepchildren Tracee and Clifford Worley and Gabrielle Truglio; and granddaughter Sophia.


Born in 1937 in Berkeley, California, to Samuel Harper Berry and Jean Kramer Berry, Phillip graduated from Berkeley High School in 1954, Stanford University in 1958, and Stanford Law School in 1961.


The law became his vehicle for affecting change in the world, and he was exceptional at its practice, particularly at litigating. He was also a fierce advocate for those who'd been treated with inequity or injustice.


He began his legal career with his father, Samuel Berry, and eventually Phillip came to lead the Law Offices of Berry & Berry in Oakland, CA. His 30-plus years experience as a trial attorney made him a force to be reckoned with. He had one of the best legal minds in the profession, yet he remained humble, exhibiting the highest level of integrity throughout his career. He litigated many cases on a pro bono basis and was most gratified when helping the underrepresented.


A lifelong leader of the Sierra Club, Phillip served three terms as the Club's National President: 1969-1971, at which time he was the youngest-serving president, and 1991-1992. He served on the Sierra Club Board of Directors for thirty years. During his tenure, he was instrumental in several key developments within the environmental community. Most significantly, he co-founded the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, later Earthjustice, which helped the environmental movement turn its ideals into political and legal realities. For this and many other related accomplishments, in 1978 he was awarded the John Muir Award, the Sierra Club's highest honor. He was appointed to the California Board of Forestry by Ronald Reagan in 1974 and served in that same position under the Brown and Deukmejian administrations. Additionally he was an Advisory Board member to the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources as well as serving as a Board member to Pacific Environment, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the environment of the Pacific Rim.

He was a loving husband and father, a natural wit, an avid outdoorsman, a naturalist, a mountain climber, a defender of the environment and an advocate for justice. He will be dearly missed by his family, friends and colleagues.


We welcome your attendance at a celebration of his life on Friday, October 11, 2013, at 1:00 pm at Shiloh Church, 3295 School St. Oakland, CA 94602. In lieu of flowers, the family would like donations made to any one of the following charitable organizations in which Mr. Berry was either actively involved or whose purpose aroused his passion.


The Sierra Club, EarthJustice, Pacific Environment (for the preservation of Amur or Bengal Tigers) ,World Wildlife Organization (for the preservation of Amur or Bengal Tigers)


Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Sept. 27 to Sept. 29, 2013