Madera mourns longtime builder, benefactor Berry


Courtesy of the Madera Chamber of Commerce

David L. Berry, 94, of Berry Construction and his wife Patti. David died Friday. Graveside services will be held under the direction of Jay Chapel at 10 a.m. on Aug. 2, at the Mausoleum Area of Arbor Vitae Cemetery, 1301 Roberts Ave.

 

One of the people who can be credited with changing the face of Madera, 94-year-old David L. Berry of Berry Construction, died Friday.


His generosity in supporting community projects, especially those benefitting the youth of Madera, was extensive. Youth sports teams, such as Little League baseball teams, have Berry Construction on their uniforms.


His contributions to health care has resulted in one of the finest facilities, Madera Community Hospital, in the state.

According to the MCH website, in 1966 a coalition of local residents met with the expressed purpose of building a new, fully accredited medical center for their home town. This group included Georgia and A.K. Baker, Lee and Anna DaSilva and Dave and Patti Berry.


Baker, a local farmer helped with the acquisition of the land, DaSilva the concrete and Berry the construction.


Madera Community Hospital opened in 1971 and, by 1977, it had formed the MCH Foundation to process donations and organize fundraising efforts. Berry served as foundation president for many years.


On the jobsite, Berry didn’t hesitate to hire young unskilled labor. His new hires all started out with a shovel in their hands and advanced from there, depending on their abilities and drive. Being able to say one worked for Berry Construction helped many people when they struck-out on their own. Former employees have fond memories of working for the company.


“He was the greatest mentor a kid in his 30s could ever ask for,” said Jim Taubert, former director of the Madera Redevelopment Agency. “A lot of people, especially at the City (of Madera), thought he was a little tough to work with. But he never did anything that wasn’t good for Madera. He kept the welfare of his hometown and its residents at the forefront of his endeavors. He loved our city but he really enjoyed a good fight now and then.


“When I left for redevelopment agency, he continued to be a great supporter. He was an incredible man and many people don’t realize all the things he did for Madera. He is an irreplaceable asset for our city.”


Berry worked with many talented young builders and subcontractors just getting started in the construction industry.


“Dave was a man who believed that anyone who pushed themselves as hard as he pushed himself could accomplish anything they set their mind to,” said fellow contractor Mike Pistoresi of DMP Development Corporation.


Berry and four other businessmen built and owned the former Madera Valley Inn, Madera’s first five story building, complete with coffee shop, swimming pool, cocktail lounge and elevators.


“He was generous, yet tough,” Pistoresi said. “He loved Madera, his beautiful and elegant wife Patty, his children and grandchildren. He also cared deeply for his employees. He was tough and impetuous, yet caring and loved sharing the fruits of his hard work with his friends and acquaintances.”


Many people in Madera owe the roofs over their heads to Dave Berry and his colleagues.


“Without Dave’s vision, there might not have been a Westside of Madera,” Pistoresi said. “He was truly unique and I was fortunate to call him my friend and partner.”


“For many years, Madera has grown and gained immeasurable accomplishments due to the work and compassion of Mr. Dave Berry,” said Debi Bray, CEO of the Madera Chamber of Commerce. “His immense success in residential, commercial, and industrial real estate has benefitted our city in countless ways.”


He wanted to give back and share his prosperity in order to benefit Madera beyond his work, and he did so with humble generosity, she said.


“This resulted in countless achievements and contributions to our community that are unknown because he gave from the heart, and not for recognition, said Bray.


For this reason, and much more, the Madera Chamber of Commerce awarded Berry with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, the first year the recognition was given.


“He was a giant of a man, on whose shoulders we have stood,” Bray said. “It is with great gratitude, admiration, and respect, that the Madera Chamber of Commerce pay tribute to him and his legacy.”


He was preceded in death by his wife of 74 years, Patti McKee Berry, his parents Dutch and Hattie Berry and his sister Gwen Cain.


He is survived by his daughters, Kristi and husband, Irby Iness, Jone and husband Ray Phillips, four grandchildren and their spouses, 10 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.


Graveside services will be held under the direction of Jay Chapel at 10 a.m. on Aug. 2, at the Mausoleum Area of Arbor Vitae Cemetery, 1301 Roberts Ave. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Joachim’s Catholic School or the Madera Community Hospital Foundation.