Peter J. Berry
{ "" }
Share
Share Peter's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Peter J. Berry, a Cambridge artist, teacher, activist, athlete, union organizer, and beloved partner, brother, uncle and friend, died of an aggressive cancer on March 9, 2020. He was 62. Peter was a gentle, compassionate man who bonded easily with people and established deep and meaningful relationships that lasted a lifetime. Warm and non-judgmental, he became a confidante for many. His wonderful wit, modesty, and attention to detail appeared in everything he did -- his union organizing, his ceramic artwork, and the house he built with the help of his loving parents and his life partner of 36 years, Andy Nash. Peter studied Physical Education at UMass-Amherst and earned a Masters in Fine Arts from Rutgers, where he made wood sculptural installations scavenged from torn-down buildings, capturing the destruction of the historic New Brunswick community. In Cambridge, he was chair of the Area 4 Coalition, organizing for affordable housing in the neighborhood. Peter worked at the Fogg Art Museum for 16 years before joining the staff of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers. He was a quiet leader who nurtured the self-advocacy of others and modeled an organizer's most important skill: listening. In the class Peter taught at the Harvard Ceramics Studio, he made sure his students knew they didn't need fancy tools beyond their own hands. His approach was to use the simplest of implements, for instance a small flat wooden stick carefully labeled with his name, lest it be mistaken for scrap and thrown away. Peter's uniquely glazed rectilinear vases and sculptural objects are functional and striking, attracting the eye of non- artists and artists alike. A lifelong athlete, Pete was captain of his high school wrestling team, biked 4000 miles across the U.S. with good friends, made annual hiking trips to the Southwest and along the Appalachian Trail, played basketball and softball, and took up golf later in life. But his greatest joys were spending his summer vacations on Cape Cod with Andy and riding the waves. Peter walked lightly on the earth, conserving resources everywhere except with people. He loved his family and friends fiercely and will be deeply missed by all those he left behind, especially his wife, Andy; brother, Steve Berry; sister, Linda Berry; three nieces, Alexandra, Christina, and Samantha; and sister-in-law, Marie Berry. A memorial event is being planned for the future. Memorial contributions may be made to a Peter Berry Ceramics Scholarship (please visit: https://ofa.fas.harvard.edu/peter-berry-scholarship), a worker co-op (Wellspring.Coop), or Resist.org.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Cambridge Chronicle from Mar. 15 to Mar. 26, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
14 entries
May 16, 2020
Peter was in my closest circle of friends. We met his sophomore year in college through our mutual friend (David Hawley). We had decided to bicycle that Summer across the continent from Boston to California. It was such an adventure, that Peter and I decided to stay a few months on the west coast. Over the years Pete and I shared many adventures together. Hikes throughout the mountains of New England and out west in the canyon lands of Utah. As time went on we would get together to bicycle or to ride the waves at Horseneck beach. Peter was always up for an adventure or a deep conversation on any topic. I am going to deeply miss my good friend. I dont think I can even imagine life with out him here. Until we meet again my friend. Love, Jim OHara.
Jim OHara
May 10, 2020
So, in this period of quarantine and time of self isolation, I unearthed my high school yearbook (Norwood High School (MA) Class of 1975) and I started to Google some of the people I remembered. It was. so sad to see that Peter had passed away. I went to grammar school with him, too. We were friends early on...not the best of friends, but it is still sad to see that he has left us so soon...and way too early.

Garrett M. Lee
April 9, 2020
Shocked to see note about a Peter Barry Scholarship on the Harvard Ceramics Program website--and then to find he has passed away. Didn't I just chat with him at the MAC a few weeks back? Truly great guy--warm and kind and gentle. I'll miss seeing him all over Harvard Sq. and in the other streets of Cambridge.
Scott Ruescher
April 1, 2020
Pete was a wonderful artist-athlete. Served as Field Manager for our Fogg Art Museum/Tufts Art Dept softball team. Deeply loved. Beautiful athlete and quietly hilarious. Sympathy shared with all his other communities, and family.
Cathy McCormick
March 27, 2020
I am deeply saddened to learn of Peter's passing. HIs warmth and giving nature at the ceramics studio, and the Harvard union, made my time on earth a richer more connected experience. My heart goes out to his family
Naomi Brave
March 25, 2020
I am so sorry to hear of Peter's passing. He was one of my HUCTW reps at Harvard, and he listened to me and advised me wisely when I was in a stressful position. I was later delighted to run into him at the ceramics studio, where he spoke to me like a friend and remembered my name, though we didn't know each other well. I hope his family and friends can find comfort in having known such a kind man and wish I had the opportunity to know him better.
Rachel Hawkins
March 20, 2020
As Captain of the 1973 Wrestling Team I want to send my condolences from myself and the team. Peter was absolutely a great wrestler, sportsman and a great human being. RIP
Frank Ciavattone
Friend
March 20, 2020
Went through school with Pete and always enjoyed time spent with him. Terrific person! RIP!
Bob McGuire
Friend
March 19, 2020
Peter was a kind gentle soul , so sorry to hear this .
Barbara Eysie
Classmate
March 19, 2020
Peter was a great friend and will be missed.
Richard Bailey
Friend
March 18, 2020
I knew Peter as a teacher of ceramics and as a union rep for HUCTW. He was one of the kindest people I knew!
Cathy Lehar
March 18, 2020
Peter is described so beautifully in what is written about him here.
He was an amazing and wonderful person with such a huge range of talents and natural abilities. For sure, he listened! And he appreciated everyone - his leadership was always steady and strong, and yet kindhearted, never pushy. Having known & loved him only in his various roles in the ceramics studio, I am so happy (and sad) knowing of all the other things that Peter did, in so many different places - especially imagining him riding the waves with Andy.
Laine Gifford
March 17, 2020
I always left preparation for the Studio show and sale thinking "what a wonderful union organizer Peter must be". He brought us all together and made a challenging, dirty job go by quickly. We will miss him so much.
Peggy Clark
March 16, 2020
Pete was a wonderful guy in high school. Always had a smile on his face and a friendly hello to everyone.
Paul DeSantis
Friend
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences