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Ronald S. Berry

1933 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Ronald S. Berry Obituary

Retired Santee Fire Chief Ron Berry passed away peacefully at home January 26, 2018 with family by his side, exactly one week after his 85th birthday. Ron was born January 19, 1933 in Long Beach, CA, but family soon moved to San Diego where he attended Hoover High School. After graduation he joined the Army and served 3 years in South Korea. Upon returning to the United States he met and soon married the love of his life, Bonnie Fisher. They settled in Santee, CA, where Ron worked in aircraft, working on B-52 Bombers at Rohr, and became a volunteer fire fighter for Santee. In 1962 on January 1st he traded his $500 a month job for a salary of just $325 a month to become Santee's first paid fireman. He was promoted to Engineer the same year, Captain in 1962, Assistant Chief in 1967 and in 1971 became Chief of the Department. As Chief he faced the challenges of Prop 13's fund cut for the District. He and Lakeside Fire Chief Pat Culkin went to Sacramento to lobby the legislators and were able to restore some of the lost property tax fund needed to fund the department. Chief Ron Berry, with Lakeside Fire Protection District, secured the first Fire Department Paramedics in San Diego County. He also hired the first woman firefighter in Southern California. In the mid 80's he was instrumental in merging the District Fire Department into the City of Santee, allowing cost savings and a secure financial outlook for his firefighters.
Ron retired in 1988 after 27 years with the department, after which he and Bonnie traveled and built a cabin on Cedar Mountain in Utah.
Ron is survived by his wife of 63 years, Bonnie; 3 children Janet Swindell (John), Jim Berry (Jeannie), and Julie McDonald (Kelly); 10 grandchildren; 19 great- grandchildren; and sisters Norma Vesco and Linda Bush (Charles).
Services will be held at the Murrieta United Methodist Church, at the corner of Kalmia and Adams, February 17th at 11 a.m. with reception to follow in Fellowship Hall. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Burn Institute, 8875 Aero Dr., Suite 2000, San Diego, CA 92123-2269.
Published in Press-Enterprise on Feb. 14, 2018
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