JAMES OTHNIEL BERRY
Rev. James “Jim” Othniel Berry, 81, a Fayetteville, North Carolina native, and longtime resident of Gig Harbor, Washington, went home to be with the Lord on December 12, 2017. Polly Berry, his wife of 49 years, preceded him in death in 2008.
Born to the Rev. John Walter Berry and Lila Woodson Berry, Jim came from a family of 6 brothers and 1 sister: Ronald “Raz” Denny Berry, John Elwood Berry, Beverly Holmes Berry, Doran “Doe” Joyce Berry, H. Dolph Berry, Francis Berry, and Lila JoAnne Berry Blascak.
Jim’s success on the gridiron at Fayetteville Senior High led to his selection for the 1953 All-State High School Football Team, an opportunity to play in the Shrine Bowl, and a football scholarship to North Carolina State University.
After serving in the Navy, where he continued his football career, Jim turned down a chance to play professionally. Instead, he graduated from Biola University, was ordained a Minister of the Gospel, and spent almost 50 years as a pastor in Southern California.
“Pastor, Jim’s” tenure was marked by personal integrity, Biblical instruction, compassionate council, active charity, and an unfailing love for those in his charge. He always said that he never wanted to Pastor a church where he did not know the names and lives of all who attended.
Upon retiring from fulltime ministry, Jim worked for many years as manager for Forest Lawn Cemetery in Cypress, California. Later in life he devoted himself to caring for Polly, who was then in the midst of a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Jim’s love of people and exuberance for life led him to build Victorian doll houses for little girls, and to portray Santa Claus at both public events and Senior Centers in and around the greater Seattle area.
As a husband, father, grandfather (“Pop Pop,”), great-grandfather, and friend, Jim was a man after God’s own heart. Full of life and full of love, he never met a stranger, was never too busy for those he loved, and never missed an opportunity to support his children or grandchildren by attending a football game, soccer game, concert, or school musical.
Jim and Polly blessed their children with the security of a Christian home, a heritage of hospitality, and an exemplar of devotion – a married couple whose love for each other was surpassed only by their love for Christ. What a joy it must’ve been for Polly that Jim made it home in time for Christmas.
Jim is survived by four children and their respective spouses: Ken and Lori Berry Smith of Puyallup, WA; Mike and Kathy Berry of Gig Harbor, WA; Glenn and Kristin Berry Bullman of Gig Harbor, WA; and Tom and Lisa Berry Lefler of Etiwanda, CA. Jim and Polly had 15 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.
A celebration of life service will be held at 1:00 pm on Saturday, January 6, at Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church in Gig Harbor, WA.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to World Vision at worldvision.org.
Charitable donations may be made to:
34834 Weyerhaeuser Way S, Federal Way WA 98001