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James Richard Berry

Iowa City

James Richard Berry, 87, passed away peacefully on Feb. 14, 2020, at the Bird House Hospice Home in Iowa City, Iowa.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, at St. Mary Catholic Church in Iowa City with Father Steve Witt officiating. Burial with military honors will follow the Funeral Mass at St. Joseph's Cemetery. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, at Lensing Funeral & Cremation Service in Iowa City, where a vigil service will begin at 3 p.m.
It was Jim's request that instead of flowers, memorials please be directed to Team Breast Friends, the Bird House or the University of Northern Iowa Real Estate studies program.
Jim was born Oct. 25, 1932, in Fort Dodge, Iowa, son of Thomas and Lillian Berry. He graduated from Churdan High School in Churdan, Iowa, in 1950 where he was all-conference in baseball and basketball. He was an All-State Chorus member. In 1951, Jim enlisted in the U.S. Navy, one year after the Korean War started. He was selected to join the Pacific Combat Camera Group to provide front line news coverage of the Korean War. Jim was discharged in 1955 and went on to receive a B.A. from the University of Northern Iowa, and an M.A. from New York University. Jim married Mary Carey, his high school sweetheart, on June 8, 1953. They had six children, Mike (Chris) of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Patti Berry Williams (Blaine) of Marion, Iowa, Rick (Julie) of Scottsdale, Ariz., Joni of Chandler, Ariz., Maria (Bob) Fobian of Iowa City, Iowa, and Jimmy (Ann) of Iowa City, Iowa.
Jim led an active life with only two professions during his working years. The first was with the National Institute of Highway Safety in Washington, D.C., in the early 1960s. Jim moved the family to Iowa City in 1968 when he joined the highway safety research team at The University of Iowa. Jim became a licensed Realtor and worked for Smith, Hilgenberg and Maloney in downtown Iowa City. He later opened his own office called Jim Berry Real Estate. Jim made many lifelong friends in real estate and he retired from Coldwell Banker in 1997.
Jim's professional accolades were impressive. He helped Art Cox and Larry Stewart, his lifetime best friend, start the Real Estate Studies program at the University of Northern Iowa. He was appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad to the Iowa Real Estate Commission in 1984, where he ended his tenure as head commissioner in 1991. Jim was very active in the Iowa City Noon Optimist Club, the Monday Morning Quarterback Club, and the Iowa City Athletic Booster Club, where he served as president in 1977. Jim served as president of the Iowa City Area Association of Realtors and was chosen as Realtor of the Year twice. He coached Iowa City Babe Ruth baseball, chaperoned music trips at Iowa City High School, sang in the St. Mary's Church Choir, was director of The Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce and served on the Iowa City Parks and Recreation Commission. Jim and Mary visited all the Presidential museums and they were avid Iowa Hawkeyes fans, attending many bowl games, basketball games and Iowa Hawkeyes football games. Jim loved Iowa wrestling and he was the official scorekeeper on the bench for the Hawkeyes for 25 years. He was an avid golfer and spent many days out on the golf course with his buddies, including the Wednesday Wackers.
Jim was blessed with 59 years of marriage to Mary and lost her to breast cancer on Feb. 16, 2013. He was blessed to find love a second time when he met Arlene Brennan. They were able to enjoy each other's company for almost seven years. She is an angel that took such loving care of Jim all the way to the end of his life.
Jim is survived by his partner, Arlene Brennan; six children; 11 grandchildren, Kami, Ryan, Kaycie, Kristian, Dixie, Shawn, Jake, Molly, Colin, Austin, and Jonathan; five great-grandchildren: Sven, Ronan, Victoria, Ryder and Mia; his brother, Bob Berry; and many nieces and nephews. He will be missed by all who knew him.
Jim was preceded in death by his loving wife of 59 years, Mary Carey Berry; his parents; his brothers, Don and Tom; and his sisters, Margie and Helen.
The family wishes to extend their gratitude to all the nurses and staff members of Legacy Gardens, the Bird House, Mercy Hospital and Iowa City Hospice. The compassionate care and love that Jim received was truly amazing.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.lensingfuneral.com.
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