Dr. Lopez Alexander Berry
of Navarro County, Texas


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DR. L. A. "LOPEZ" BERRY
1921-2011

Dr. Berry, born in Dawson, Texas, March 8, 1921, was a son of Alex Berry, and a descendent of one of the pioneer families of Western Navarro Co. TX. He spent his childhood in Dawson, and was better known as Lopez, rather than L. A. His work ethic was acquired from his father, a skilled carpen ter, and from the small farm where he chopped and picked cotton. He excelled in academics at school, and was a star on the football team.

He He graduated from Dawson High School in 1938 in the midst of the Great Depression when financial hard times faced everyone. However, his determination to better his education led him, and his friend, Garland Allard, to hitch hike to Denton, Texas and enroll at North Texas State Teachers College. He had less than ten dollars in his pockets. Lopez, always a hard worker, washed dishes in restaurants for his meals and a few dollars each week to finance his education.

When WWII became imminent, he enlisted in the U. S. Navy and served with distinction throughout the war. He was aboard the Battleship Nevada when it was damaged by Japanese bombs at Pearl Harbor. Five months later, he survived the sinking of the USS Lexington during the Battle of the Coral Sea. His ship was part of the U. S. flotilla that gathered in Tokyo Bay for the surrender of Japan and the end of WWII.


When he returned home on furlough in 1944, he married a young lady from Dawson, Virginia Thompson, daughter of Arnold and Purdie Farmer Thompson. She was his wife and best friend for sixty-seven years, and mother of their four children:


After being discharged, Lopez entered Texas Christian University, and received a Bachelor of Arts in 1948, majoring in political science. Four years later, he had completed the PhD degree at the University of Texas with a major in education administration. Dr. L. A. Berry began his career in public schools and universities in Oklahoma, Texas, and Florida. He spent eighteen years with the U.S. Agency for International Development, a division of the U. S. Dept. of State. He and his family spent those years in Central and South America.

He and his family returned to Temple Terrace, Florida for a time where he taught at the University of South Florida, only to return to the Dept. of State. He retired from the State Dept. in 1975, returned to Temple Terrace, and began teaching at the University of Tampa.


His life and career were filled with events and accomplishments that would have inflated egos of many men, yet he remained the unpretentious individual he had always been. When he made a touchdown for the Dawson Bulldogs in 1937-1938, he gave credit to his team. He was a skilled writer, a student of philosophy. He loved poetry and politics. He never lost his love of nature that began as child in Dawson.

He and Virginia loved Temple Terrace, but in later life, they purchased a quaint and comfortable summer residence in the hills of North Carolina. It was there Dr. Berry could play his harmonica, fish in nearby streams, and entertain old friends.


Dr. Berry has left a challenging legacy to his lovely wife, his four children, nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. They all gathered last Sunday at the Temple Terrace Community Church for a Memorial Service, and a farewell from old friends.

Dr. Berry will come home to Dawson on Friday, June 24, 2011 to rest in the Dawson Cemetery. Few members of his graduating class are living, but there will be those present who will remember their handsome classmate, the little boy who rode a yellow bicycle, and the times he raced through the grassburrs of the old football field to score a touchdown for, "Good Ole Dawson High."

Carl Matthews
Cecar Hill TX
 

Notes:

  • Son of James Alexander Berry Jr & Ola Lena (Hunter) Berry

  • WWII Veteran


Navarro County TXGenWeb
Copyright March, 2009
Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox