Richard Berry
1933 - 2014
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Richard "Dick" Berry died suddenly on March 10, 2014 at home in Avon. He lived 80 years of what he considered an incredibly full and happy life. He valued knowledge and education highly, both as a student while he earned several degrees, including a PhD, and also as an educator. He was extremely proud of his three sons, Bill Berry, and his wife Alex Berry, of Temecula, CA; Jeff Berry, and his wife Georgina Berry, of Santee, CA; and Tom Berry of Lakeside, AZ. He was devoted to his wife JoAnne, and loved his step-children, Debbie Vitale, and Kurt and Robin Erickson, all of Farmington, CT. With Joanne, Dick reveled in their 12 grandchildren: Samantha, Pedro, Warren, Katherine, Erick, Claudia, Maddie, T.J., Sammy, Ellie, Emily and Andy, and his great granddaughter, Emily. Dick was born on June 21, 1933, in Quincy, MA. He enjoyed traveling and took full advantage of his geological profession to visit many interesting parts of the world, including the Middle East, Europe, Argentina, Australia and, closer to home, Mexico and Canada. He was able to incorporate a scientist's love of the evolution of the earth into a deep and abiding Christian faith. He was a long-time professor of geology at San Diego State University, and was active in several professional societies and served as a national officer of the Clay Minerals Society. He was also active in the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) as Clerk of Session, Presbytery Moderator, and twice as Commissioner to the General Assembly. He never totally lost the reserve that came from being born during the depression era in New England. He also never lost what he referred to as his "warped sense of humor" that revealed itself through innumerable bad jokes and questionable puns. He often said that he tried to live his life in a way that made a difference, in his family, his church and his profession. He tinkered. He was a parliamentarian. He enjoyed classical music. He took great satisfaction from trying to fix things, whether or not his efforts met with success. He read anything and everything. He had a sweet tooth. He had little patience with bigotry and intolerance. He tried to write. He was an able cook but he also liked to eat out. Mexican food and margaritas were his favorites. He prized integrity. He collected all sorts of things. He loved life. He was a kind and gentle man who took care of those around him. He was loved and will be missed. A memorial service to celebrate Dick's life will be held on Monday, March 24, at 11 a.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2080 Boulevard, West Hartford. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Camp Courant, P.O. Box 569., Hartford, CT. 06115; or to the Connecticut Humane Society, 701 Russell Road, Newington, CT. 06111. The Carmon Funeral Home of Avon is caring for the arrangements. For directions or condolences please visit

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Published in Hartford Courant on Mar. 13, 2014.
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12 entries
March 7, 2021
3-7-2021 Hard to believe so much time has passed. Richard remains on my shoulder as I continue to practice geology. He was a great mentor and teacher. I am so glad he and I crossed paths at San Diego State University in the 1960s and as professionals for many years thereafter. He certainly touched the future. With great memories of our time together as fellow geologists. Bill Elliott
Bill Elliott
March 7, 2019
3-7-2019 Gone from this planet, but never forgotten. I have many fond memories of Richard while he was teaching at San Diego State University. I took classes from him as well as rubbed elbows with him at geo-meetings and on field trips. We became friends over the years, as I grew in my geological skills, and we published a couple of short papers together. One thing that has always stuck in my mind is his assertion that everything revolves around energy. For example, low energy environment = deposition of clay and silt, high energy environment = deposition of gravel. From then on, I've always thought in terms of energy required to make something happen -- or not happen -- as the case may be. For a long time after Dick left us, we would often say, gee if Dick were here we could ask him. But, he did teach us to be self reliant, so now we just figure things out for ourselves. Old teachers never die, they just add notches to their rock hammers and keep on looking for that magic contact or fault that will answer a puzzling geologic question. My best to Richard's family and friends, may road be smooth, may the terrain be gentle, and may the Coleman stove always light when you are in need of a cup of coffee on a cold morning in the field. Cheers, Bill Elliott SDSU '66)
Bill Elliott
April 1, 2014
GSA 2013
Dear JoAnne, I am so pleased that Dick and I had a chance to chat via email over the last few weeks of his life. He definitely was so pleased to be back east. I am also pleased that we could all be together at GSA last October. Take care. Carole Ziegler
March 23, 2014
3-23-2014 Dear JoAnne and family:
My earliest memory of Dick was on a 1961, GSA field trip to San Diego County's Stuart tourmaline mine near Pala, CA. It was winter-time and we native San Diegans were bundled-up in warm jackets. Wearing only a T-shirt, Richard was amused, as he had just flown in from the east coast where it really is cold.
Beyond taking classes from him, we went on field trips together, broke bread at local professional meetings, and even co-authored an article for a 1991, San Diego Association of Geologists field trip guidebook. I found the clay seam and Dick identified it with his X-ray diffraction machine. I have always felt honored to have such a close and professional relationship with a very special mentor professor.
Although research was an important part of his career, he never let that get in the way of his principal interest -- helping and encouraging his students. Dick wanted them to learn and understand the material -- not just receive a grade for their transcripts.
One of my favorite memories is of a class where he made a never-to-be-forgotten point about the importance of energy in all things geological. I have applied this aha moment throughout my career, especially to all things sedimentological.
For example, clays are usually found in formerly low-energy environments. And for Richard, THE clay mineralogist, (with tongue-in-cheek) who cares about high energy conglomerates....
To the best of our abilities, those of us whose lives have been enriched by Dick's presence on this planet, we will do our best to pass along his expertise and wisdom to the next generation. Teachers really do touch the future!
It is with sadness, but with many, many fond memories of rich and meaningful shared geo-experiences that I say adieu to Dr. Richard Berry,
Bill Elliott, Consulting Engineering Geologist
Bill Elliott
March 19, 2014
While an SDSU student,I lived next door to the Berrys and babysat the 3 boys. They were great neighbors. Tanis and I remember those great Baja Dr. get-togethers.
Alan Brown
March 19, 2014
My deepest sympathies to the Berry family. Dick was my long-time colleague in The Clay Minerals Society and preceded me as secretary of the organization. He taught me all the ins and outs of how to take minutes, and I greatly appreciate his advice and assistance.
Warren Huff
March 18, 2014
David Barthelmy, Houston, TX
Dr Berry was my Senior Thesis adviser at San Diego State in 1972. I will miss his guidance and humor. Condolences to Richard's family.

David Barthelmy, Houston, TX
March 15, 2014
Dear JoAnne, Bill, Jeff, Tom and families,

I will always recall that Dick's favorite "four-letter word" was....

CLAY! :)

Thank you for sharing such a sweet, gentle man with me and so many others. My thoughts are with you as we all fondly recall our cherished memories of "Dr. Berry"

Sue Tanges
and the SDSU Geology Alumni Association
March 15, 2014
JoAnne, Words can't express such a loss. You have my deepest sympathy. I always found that any time I spent with Dick to be productive whether is was the "Poway Conglomerate" or his writings on the Evolution and Christianity. I still share his treatise on that with friends who need to read it. You will be in my thoughts during this time.
Dan Näsman
March 15, 2014
Dear JoAnne,
I just went on your Facebook page and saw this devastating message. I had written Dan as you mentioned and got his response saying he wanted to hear from you first before I shared. My deepest sympathy to you, Carolyn Bass
March 14, 2014
To Kurt and Robin and your entire family, please accept sincere condolences. May good memories help you deal with your loss.
Andrea and Joe Luty
March 13, 2014
To Dick Berry's wife and family: I am a friend of Dick's through Old Guard and we often had Tuesday lunch together with a dozen or more fellow Old Guarders. Dick will be missed. He was a popular figure within our group.May God bless you all as you respond to your loss!
Bob Hoffman
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