Robert Berry

Robert Merton “Bob” Berry was born in LaGrande Oregon to Merton Albert Berry and Golda Joyce Beck on May 27th, 1931, and passed away in Moose Pass, Alaska on April 1, 2022.

He grew up and attended schools there in LaGrande. After high school he worked for the forest service, and then for a sawmill out of Elgin. In February of 1950 he left to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and spent two years in the North Central States Mission based in Minnesota. He returned home in February of 1953. On March 27, 1953, he married Carol Ruth Shinsel in the Logan Utah temple. Their earthly life together lasted until her death on August 12, 2012.

Bob was drafted into the Army in April of 1953 and was sent to Fort Louis Washington for basic training. Their first son Robert Sherman was born there. He was discharged from the Army in Feb of 1955 and shortly after moved to Provo, Utah, where Loren Ray joined the family. Bob worked on a dairy farm with his wife’s uncle before moving back to LaGrande. There he delivered mail for the Postal Serivce and welcomed a daughter Bonita Carol, and another son Clinton Jay. Although working for the post office was a good job, he had a quest for adventure and on the recommendation of a friend he applied for a job with the Bureau of Land Management in Alaska for fire control. He was hired to start April 1, 1958, in the little village of Northway, Alaska. So, Bob and Carol and four little kids made the 3,000-mile trek to Alaska to start the next phase of their lives. The trip was fraught with trials and adventure, but with the help and grace of the Heavenly Father, they made it on a wing and a prayer. Alaska placed its spell on Bob and they ended up staying in that great state and raising their family for the next 15 years.

During those years they buried a daughter Crystal Kay in 1959, and added three more sons, Curtis Merton, Vernal Rex, and Goldyn Scott. Their lives were filled with work and fun, and more work. They homesteaded just outside of Delta Junction where they raised potatoes, winter wheat, hay, and whatever else they could get to grow there. They withstood the frigid weather, snow and storms, a couple of floods, herds of buffalo who wiped out crops and trampled fields, and many more trials. Bob was an avid hunter and took his entire family with him when he went. He kept the freezer full of moose, caribou, salmon, and sometimes even buffalo. He worked any other jobs he could get to keep the family fed. He was an accomplished carpenter and builder, a very good mechanic, plumber, electrician, and handyman. He built their log house in Delta Junction, and many houses after that. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do.

Bob and his family moved back to Oregon in October of 1972, where they operated a dairy farm for a short while, then he got a job with the Vale School District teaching auto mechanics and building trades. He loved mentoring the high-schoolers and had fun teaching them how to build houses, fix cars, be self-reliant, and to value their self-esteem. He loved those students as much as they loved him. Later, with Carol as his co-pilot, he drove semi-trucks to deliver cars, and then delivered oil for Poole Oil in Boise Idaho. Proving that he was good at almost anything he would undertake, he entered and won the state big rig driving competition and got to go to Nashville Tennessee for the Nationals.

Bob retired and in 1995 he and his sweetheart decided to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They sold their home in Vale, purchased some property in LaGrande, and put in their mission application papers. They were living in a shop on the LaGrande property and preparing to build a house when they received their call to serve in the Portuguese, Lisbon mission. They spent 18 months in the Cabo-Verde Islands off the coast of South Africa where they taught, supported, and mentored the saints there both physically and spiritually. They loved the people there, and the people, in turn, loved their Elder and Sister Berry.

They returned home from their mission to LaGrande, where Bob built his last home. They enjoyed their time there with family and friends. In 2007 Bob and Carol decided to head back north to Alaska to live with their son Curtis in Moose Pass, which is where he resided until his death. He loved attending the Seward Seahawks High School basketball games, and other sports as well – where he was affectionately known as “Gramps.” He also loved attending sporting events, weddings, baptisms, blessings, etc. of his grandchildren any time he possibly could.

Bob was a dedicated member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served in many callings through-out his life, including president of the first Delta Junction Branch, scout leader, high priest leader, ward mission leader, temple ordinance worker, and his favorite, Sunday School teacher. He was loved and respected by all who knew him. He always had a kind word to say about everyone (unless it was a politician) and very rarely raised his voice. He was a loving and supportive son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, in-law, friend, etc. He loved to tease and was a master at telling the stories of his adventures in the great northwest (which were many!) He was always ready to help and support anyone in need and lived a righteous life – in which he gathered much wisdom to pass on to his loved-ones. His advice was readily sought after and was always invaluable.

Bob leaves a family who will miss him deeply, including six sons Robert (Judy), Loren, Clint, Curtis (Nikki), Vernal (Twila) and G Scott (Erika), a daughter, Bonita Yeaman (Alan), a sister Maxine Shinsel (Vic), and a brother Wesley Berry (Teri), as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was excited recently to find out that he would be welcoming a great-great grandchild this coming November (2022). He also leaves many beloved nieces and nephews and other extended family members and close friends.

Other than his wife Carol, preceding him in death are his parents Merton and Golda Berry; sisters, Thelma Jean See, Luella Mae Berry; brothers, Raymond, Donald and Glendon Berry; grandsons Kip Robert Johnson and Parker Merton Berry, and granddaughter Nicole Ann Berry.

Memorial services will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints building in Seward on Friday, April 8 at 5 p.m. There will also be a graveside service in LaGrande, Oregon on Thursday, April 14, where he will be buried next to his eternal sweetheart in the Island City Cemetery, Union, Oregon.

Arrangements in Alaska were by Peninsula Memorial Chapel in Kenai.