The man responsible for building most of Madera's west side has passed away at 94. David L. Berry was born in 1927 to Dutch and Hattie "Bill" Berry in Lamesa, Texas. The family soon migrated west to California, eventually settling in Madera, where Dutch operated a sawmill.
David attended Madera Union High School before enlisting in the United States Coast Guard towards the end of World War II, where he served on the U.S. Naval Ship Hodges (operated during the war by the United States Coast Guard). While on the Hodges, Berry saw ports of call in New Guinea and the Philippines. The ship was also a part of the push towards Japan before their surrender. The ship then returned to San Francisco on Independence Day 1945 before leaving later that year for New York by way of the Panama Canal.
After his military service, Berry married the love of his life, Patricia Rea McKee. The two met in high school, where David was the "man of her dreams." They married in a small Methodist Chapel in 1947. Just before her death in 2020, only 221 days before David's, they celebrated their 74th Wedding Anniversary. The marriage produced two daughters, four grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.
Berry went to work with his father at Dutch's construction firm. Eventually, the two would partner to form Berry Berry Incorporated, and he began a building career that would span the rest of his life. When Dutch Berry died at the age of 70, the younger Berry opened what is now Berry Construction.
David Berry always thought he needed to give back to the community which began to come to fruition after his Father’s death. While Berry never sought credit for it, he and his friend Lee DaSilva sponsored the yearly firework shows for the Fourth of July from the early 70s to his retirement. He also supported a Little League team for many years. Berry would often help families in need without ever being asked or the families knowing where the help came. Berry would also donate land for community facilities like Lion's Town & Country Park, the Jehovah Witness Church on Sunset Avenue, and built the Holy Spouses Hall for the Saint Joachim's Catholic Church at cost.
When it came to his employees that is where David Berry was the proudest. He loved his workers and would often reward them for a hard week's work with kegs of beer and tamales on Fridays, and for Thanksgiving and Christmas, he would not only purchase their holiday meals but also give each of them an extra check to take care of whatever their families needed. Money did not matter to David, but if it were his luck to have it, he would share it. Berry would define his luck of wealth as "Living Under Christ's Kindness."
Berry was an avid pilot of both fixed-wing planes and helicopters. He was the oldest man in California to hold a license to fly helicopters. The second oldest man was Clint Eastwood. For those who lived on the westside of Madera, they always knew when Berry was in his helicopter as he would buzz his house in Seasons Court to let his wife know he was coming home.
Berry always thought he was a lucky man, but luck almost ran out twice for Berry at two California airports. While piloting one of his helicopters at the Madera Airport, the aircraft flipped over during a crash that he walked away from. Another time at the airport in Napa, the ground crew had tethered his helicopter to the ground during a wind storm, but Berry did not know that the next day when he took off, only to have a fifty-foot cable pull the aircraft and send it crashing to the ground. Luck was again on his side as he again walked away from another accident without a scratch.
Patricia and David would travel the world throughout their marriage, even flying on the supersonic Concorde from New York to Paris in three hours. He got the thrill of his life being allowed in the cockpit with the pilots on that flight. But by far, their favorite location was Puerto Vallarta where they built a group of condominiums (Molina da Agua) from the ground up when they were in their eighties. The family has said that while some of the couple's ashes will be interned here in Madera, some of their ashes will be spread near their home at the condominium project.
The family wishes to thank the staff from Saint Mary's Hospice Care and the caregivers from Wellbeing Senior Solutions that made Mr. Berry's final years on Earth better. They would particularly like to thank Jason Larussa, Barbara Del Leon, Elsa Hernandez, Brittney Gallegos, Araceli Garcia, Jasmine Concepcion, Cierra Noyola, Adriana Arvaiza, and Elizabeth Lopez.
Mr, Berry was preceded in death by his parents, Dutch and Hattie Berry, and his sister Gwen Cain.
Four generations of Berry survive Mr. Berry. His two daughters; Kristi (Irby) Iness, Jone (Ray) Phillips. Grandchildren; Shannon (Soren) Harvey, David (Claudia) Rossi, Todd (Scotty) Phillips, Ashley (Lawrence) Clark. Great-grandchildren; Matthew (Emily) Gallegos, Jacob (Nikki) Coronado, Makayla Soria, Daniel Rossi, Alexa Tousi, Remington Clark, Carys Clark, Brixton Phillips, Bradley Phillips, Bryant Phillips. Great-great-grandchildren; Luke Gallegos, Bradey Gallegos.
All remembrances can be made to the Saint Joachim's School in lieu of flowers in his honor.
To send flowers to David's family, please visit our floral store.
St. Joachim Catholic School
310 North I Street, Madera CA 93637
Madera Community Hospital Foundation
1250 E. Almond Avenue, Madera CA 93637