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Colonel William Eugene Berry, U.S. Army, (retired)
Colonel William E. “Billy” Berry, U.S. Army, (retired), 88, peacefully passed away surrounded by his loving family at his home in Braxton on October 18, 2016.
He was an extraordinary man. A Southern gentleman. He had a heartfelt talent for making anyone he spoke with feel special. We’re blessed to have learned so many valuable lessons from him. Through his attention, kindness, and generosity, he brought out the best in all of us.
Billy lived a most productive and exemplary life. He was born in Braxton, MS on September 6, 1928, the only son of Marvin E. Berry and Alma Harper Berry. He graduated from Braxton High School in 1946, a member of a two-person class, and he loved to tell the story of how he was number one in his class and at the same time next to last.
He went to the University of Mississippi and received his Masters Degree in Business at American University. At Ole Miss, Billy became a member of the Army ROTC program earning his commission as a 2d Lieutenant upon graduation. He also became a member, and later President, of the Delta Psi Chapter of Alpha Tau Omega national fraternity.
Bill loved ATO and ATO loved him. He was named a Delta Psi Outstanding Pledge, served as the chapter’s treasurer and president. He won the Province X Thomas Arkle Clark Award and went on to be named the 1952 National Fraternity TAC Honoree. He served as Chief of Province XIX, 1960 – 64; National Fraternity Treasurer, 1966 – 68; Chairman of the Fraternity’s Leadership Conference, 1967-68; and Washington DC ATO Alumni Association President 1969–70.
Bill began his full-time Army career in 1952. Through the 1950s Bill served as an infantry platoon leader, company executive officer and company commander in Japan, Germany and the United States.
Bill later became the Assistant Adjutant General in the Pentagon with additional duties as a White House Aide. On occasion Bill was the Army officer standing behind President Kennedy in an official diplomatic receiving line providing guest and other information to the President. He was also at Mrs. Kennedy’s side as she welcomed foreign dignitaries to the White House on the day of President Kennedy’s funeral.
Bill went on to serve as Advisor to the Adjutant General in Vietnam, Senior Advisor and Consultant to the Republic of Vietnam, Armed Forces Adjutant General, Joint General Staff, Saigon and concurrently Chief of the Adjutant General Advisory Branch, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam; Deputy Adjutant General, US Army, Headquarters, Pacific in Hawaii. In 1974 Bill was named Deputy Commandant, US Army Institute of Administration, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana.
Billy became the 30th National President of ATO in 1975 and committed himself to strengthening the bonds of fraternity and demonstrating the Christian leadership that is the bedrock of the organization. His leadership and wisdom benefitted scores of ATOs over many generations, and this is especially true for his Delta Psi Chapter at Ole Miss. In the last decade, Bill dutifully continued to recruit all outstanding young men into the ATO family.
After serving as National President, Billy joined the ATO Foundation Board of Governors and the Delta Psi Board of Trustees. In 1987 he was honored with the National President Award.
Within the Braxton community, Billy freely gave of his time, experiences, and resources to help the needy and the underprivileged. He loved his church, Braxton United Methodist, where his grandfather was a founding member, and he often taught Sunday school classes and Bible study. He became a pivotal figure in Braxton, a place he dearly loved. People from his ATO and his military past frequently came to Braxton to seek his council and to visit with him. He became for many a treasured font of wisdom, knowledge, and, for family, a vast storehouse of Berry and Harper history.
Our loss is deep for a man who made us all feel like brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. Billy made many friends, namely his lifelong friend Ed Weber who he met in the early 50’s, when they both served in the Army/ Adjunct General’s Corps. “Uncle Billy,” as his family affectionately called him, was like a second Dad to the six Weber kids. He provided an unlimited abundance of unconditional love and memorable rides in his very fast Jaguars.
Billy is survived by several cousins and dear friends throughout the country, the residents of Simpson County, MS, and thousands of ATO fraternity brothers everywhere.
One of Billy’s favorite quotes is by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
This was Billy’s gift to so many—an abiding strength of character and doing the right thing always. That Billy Berry touched untold lives in a positive way is without doubt. Billy was a beloved friend, role model, compatriot, and cousin to many people near and far. His life was well lived, and he will be greatly missed.
Billy’s funeral will be held 2 PM Thursday, October 27, 2016, at the Braxton United Methodist Church, Dr. Dan Patterson presiding, with burial to follow at the Braxton City Cemetery. Pallbearers will include his cousins and current ATO brothers.

Visitation will be held 4-8 PM Wednesday, October 26, 2016, at the Colonial Chapel Funeral Home, Mendenhall, MS. He was predeceased by his parents, Melvin E. Berry and Alma Harper Berry and is survived by several close cousins and innumerable friends and people who loved and admired him greatly.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Billy’s favorite charity, the Alma Harper Berry Memorial Health/Welfare Endowment administered by the Mississippi United Methodist Foundation, 581 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, MS.

 

 

 

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