DR. L. A. "LOPEZ" BERRY
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
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."
Cecar Hill TX