A Tribute To My Brother in Law George Berry

George, Marilyn, John
Budapest 2003

 

The first time I met George Berry in 1957 I didn’t like him even a little. It wasn’t his outward appearance which bothered me. He was a tall, handsome Texan , nicely dressed with a great tan and a pleasing outgoing personality. What really bothered me was his relationship to my sister Marilyn. She had decided after 1 year at the all-women’s Lindenwood College in St. Charles, Missouri to attend the University of Texas in Austin. I thought she had lost her sense of good judgement because the Texas Longhorns were bitter rivals of my beloved Arkansas Razorbacks. To add further fuel she had met and fallen in love with this man George Berry who was a stranger to me, and they had planned to marry in July, 1957 at the end of her junior year. My thought about him was he was stealing my sweet sister away to Texas, and I would never see her again. At the time I was a teen, and Marilyn had been a stabilizing influence on me since early childhood although she was only 3 years older.

Following their marriage in El Dorado, Arkansas and honeymoon in Cuba George completed his doctorate degree in business and finance, and they moved to Lubbock, Texas (even further away). He joined the faculty of Texas Tech University in 1961 and they remained in Lubbock until 1969 when he retired from academics as Professor and Chair of Graduate Studies at Texas Tech. He began his next career as a consultant to financial institutions, and they moved their family to Midland, Texas in 1969 where they remained until 1978. It was then they made their final move back to Austin. The majority of his consulting work was done in Austin, and the move prevented him from making the trip to Austin multiple times weekly.

By this time they had 4 fine sons; James, John, Robert and David. My initial attitude toward George had long since changed when I saw how much he loved Marilyn and his family  and was such a devoted a husband and father. I began loving what a cheerful, winsome and fun-loving personality George possessed. Whenever we talked he had the latest Aggie joke (and he had many), the most hilarious lawyer stories (I never cared much for lawyers until our son John became one), and many funny accounts of the Longhorn and Razorback tradition. George was the first person to tell me about a Texas holiday celebrated annually called Juneteenth. At the time it was an exclusive and official Texas holiday celebrated on June 19th commemorating Emancipation Day, and among other things many businesses were closed on Juneteenth giving everyone in Texas a welcomed free day.

Cathy and I loved spending time with George, Marilyn and their sons, and we purposed to be present at as many of their special occasions as possible, such as graduations and weddings. They reciprocated with many of our children’s events. After their move back to Austin and because all four of us loved sports we attended some fun outings together such as the Southwest Conference Basketball Tournaments in both San Antonio and Dallas. Our relationship with George and Marilyn ramped up in 1996 when we invited them to join us on a trip to the Holy Land. It was sponsored by the International Congress on Revival (ICR), and Cathy and I wanted them to begin making world-wide mission trips with us. I recounted some of our experiences in a recent blog (Walking Where Jesus Walked, July 2020).

The four of us made a number of overseas mission trips with ICR over the next 10 years, and they were some of the most memorable experiences we ever had. George was so well liked and respected by the leadership of ICR he was invited to become a board member in 1999. This afforded us additional times together when we met for those meetings in such cities as Chattanooga, Tennessee (Bill Stafford’s home), Huntsville, Alabama and Athens, Alabama. I have recounted some of our trips overseas to such places as Salzburg, Austria; Budapest, Hungary and Belfast, Ireland.(The ICR Clothing Ministry; Oct. 2014; A European Gallbladder Ministry, Mar. 2016; Wayne Barber and His Bubba Teeth, May 2018). Every trip was exciting, fun-filled and life changing.

George and Marilyn did a wonderful job is raising their sons to be God-fearing and extremely high achievers. James became an anesthesiologist and is one of the most outstanding leaders in his profession. Among many other accomplishments he invented an anesthetic delivering device which has revolutionized the recovery of expensive anesthetic gasses. It is marketed nation-wide to a large number of hospitals. John is a very successful businessman in Houston and along with wife Pat have raised 2 fine and successful sons. Robert is an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy cases and has served and helped hundreds of clients struggling with their personal finances.Their youngest David is a maternal-fetal specialist practicing in Austin, and is an expert in the problems associated with complicated pregnancies. There are only a handful of similar medical specialists nation-wide and David is one of the best. I have written about their physician sons in a previous blog. (Four Generations of Medical Ministry Part 2, Oct. 2019).

Because George was such an expert on finances and investments I always wanted him to give me some “inside advice” on how to make a fortune through the stock market. He continually avoided such a conversation. One day while speaking with him about another matter I said, “George, you never have given me any financial advice, and it is time you helped me make some real money on investments.” His reply was, “I’m getting ready to give you a tip which will make you a very wealthy man. Get your pen out and tell me when you are ready.” I said, “I’m all ears and ready. Go!” He said very slowly and then repeated it, “Buy low and sell high!” I dropped my pen and told him he was really not much help. George was wise enough to know financial advice from a family member can cause much distress if it fails to produce.

Although George has been healthy and strong for most of his life, over the past several years he has struggled with some issues which have drained his reserve. Because he was not able to travel with Marilyn as they had done for many years, his forced inactivity caused further deterioration of his strength. I had spoken with Dr. David on this past June 18, and he had said his Dad was slowly gaining strength in his health. On June 19 while waiting for Marilyn to prepare supper George sat in his lounge chair to take a short nap. When Marilyn went in to awaken him she discovered George had quietly passed into the arms of Jesus.

My wonderful friend, brother in law and brother in Christ met our Savior on Juneteenth, and he received his complete emancipation from this world of weakness, sickness and sin. Marilyn and all his family and friends are comforted in knowing where he is and Who he is with. He followed his own advice in starting low and ending high. I am sure missing him, but I’ll see him soon at the feet of Jesus.

Dr. John

 

Walking Where Jesus Walked

Holy Land Tour 1996

When Cathy and I became believers in the Lord Jesus Christ in 1977 the Word of God came more alive in our hearts. I  already held a teaching position in a couple’s class at First Baptist Church El Dorado and knew facts related to the land of Israel. I knew God had promised the land to Abraham and his descendants beginning in Genesis 12 and confirmed the promise by a covenant in Genesis 15. The land God gave him extended from the river of Egypt northward to Mount Hermon and from the Mediterranean eastward to the great river Euphrates. The Jews still claim these lands as their God-given possession, although the land they occupy is much smaller.

For years following our salvation we were encouraged by friends to make a trip to the Holy Land, but we resisted. I frequently said, “I have a free trip coming one day” (to the new Jerusalem)! My thinking changed when Brother Bill Stafford with the International Congress on Revival (ICR) announced a planned trip to Israel sponsored by ICR in February of 1996. Cathy and I contacted my sister Marilyn Berry and husband George of Austin, Texas, and they enthusiastically made plans to go with us. We had wanted to get them involved in the ministry of ICR, and this was a great way to introduce them to Brother Bill and other ICR members.

We left El Dorado on February 1 in the midst of an ice storm and were very fortunate to arrive in Little Rock without having to turn back. The details are not important, but we ended up flying out of Memphis to Atlanta to connect with other members of the ICR team who were also flying to Israel through Zurich. Upon arrival at Tel Aviv we were met by our tour guide Jimmy DeYoung and his wife Judy, along with 2 members of our group who were coming from Budapest, Nina Stevenson and Ildiko Barbarics who served with the Word of Life ministry.

Our hotel in Jerusalem, the Holiday Inn was a welcomed sight after a very long and at times scary journey from El Dorado. An interesting fact concerning all Holy Land tours is regardless of who is leading your personal tour, there is always a tour guide from the Department of Tourism of Israel The expense for their time is always paid by your group. Our guide from Israel was Kenny Garon who was a transplanted Jew from Louisiana. He was very cordial and polite and everyone in our group tried at one time or another to tell him about the wonderful claims and promises of Jesus Christ. He received our witness with courtesy and grace, but as far as I know was not convinced or converted.

The first place almost every tour group visits in Jerusalem is the Yad Veshim which is the Holocaust Museum. This beautiful but extremely somber reminder of the atrocities against the Jews at the hands of Hitler’s Germany causes everyone who visits to never allow this to happen again. Most of us wept as we walked from room to room remembering the over 6 million who were killed for no other reason than they were Jews.

Having Jimmy DeYoung as our guide was a special blessing. He and his wife Judy were missionaries of the Word of Life Ministry, and he is a world-renowned expert on end times prophesies. His insights on the Word of God relating to the life, ministry and death of our Savior were life giving and changing not only for Cathy and me, but for everyone in our group. To be able to ask questions as we traveled and walked the streets of the many sites of Israel was invaluable. I was totally unprepared for the emotional impact travelling in Israel would have on me. On many occasions both Cathy and I shed tears of joy with the others knowing this was the very place Jesus walked.

We traveled by bus a few miles south to Bethlehem, the place of Jesus birth. The city is controlled by the Palestinians, so movement in the small town is limited. The supposed place of his birth is obscured by a Byzantine church built on the spot of the manger scene. There was nothing at that place which was humble, modest or inspiring to me.This was the only disappointing spot for me on our tour.

The following day we traveled northward to Galilee stopping at Caesarea where Peter converted the first Gentile, Cornelius to Christianity. There was an amphitheater built by Herod the Great where Paul probably spoke to Felix while imprisoned there. We sat in the amphitheater just imagining all the wonderful events of history which occurred in this place. We continued north to Mount Carmel to view the spot where the prophet Elijah confronted the false prophets of Baal. There was a statue of Elijah to commemorate his victory over the 400 men by the power of God.

There were so many sites which brought to life the ministry and teachings of Jesus while He was on earth for those 3 years. I will forever remember the spot on the Mount of Beatitudes overlooking the Sea of Galilee where Jesus taught His disciples recorded in the passage of Matthew 5, 6 and 7.

Upon returning to Jerusalem we visited the area near Golgotha where Jesus was crucified, and then spent time at the Garden Tomb where He was buried and then rose from the dead on the 3rd day to atone for all our sins. It was there we all took the Lord’s Supper as a reminder of His death burial and resurrection. It was a tremendously impactful experience, and we were all moved to tears of contrition and thanksgiving.

A huge experience for Cathy and me was the fact that Marilyn and George were so impressed with the people they met on that trip involved with ICR they decided to begin making mission trips with us going forward. Over the next 8-10 years we made many trip together serving alongside Brother Bill and all the ICR team. George subsequently served with me and others on the Board of ICR and helped direct and shape that ministry to serve countless thousands around the world. I am forever grateful Cathy and I didn’t delay our trip to Israel where Jesus did a great work on us.

The team members pictured in the above photo are: Front Row: Judy DeYoung, Jimmy DeYoung, Kenny Garon (guide)

2nd Row: Nina Stevenson, Ildiko Barbarics, Mia Oglice, Clay Coffey, Ibby Coffey, Virginia Beth Coffey, Buster Coffey, Ruvin (bus driver)

3rd Row: Costel Oglice, John McAnally, Sherril Schroeder, Bill Stafford III, Bill Stafford II, Cathy Moore, John H Moore, Marilyn Berry, George Berry

We were standing with our backs toward the Temple Mount looking across the Kidron Valley. We were facing the Garden of Gethsemane which we toured.

Dr. John