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 in 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.