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Friends, Family, Colleagues Recall 'the Berry Best' of Years

Hundreds gathered to celebrate outgoing state Senate Majority leader Fred Berry's work.

Unique, masterful, loyal, hilarious, inspirational, compassionate, admirable, generous, committed, and "the Berry best" were just some of the words used to describe outgoing state Sen. Fred Berry at a celebratory night in his honor Thursday at the . 

Led by Master of Ceremonies Nelson Benton, a longtime former editor at the Salem News, Berry's praises were sung by Gov. Deval Patrick and Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, alongside hundreds of state and local officials, friends and family members. They all remembered Berry's 30 years on Beacon Hill.

In a video presentation, members of the community expressed their gratitude for Berry. Speakers included representatives from North Shore Elder Services, HAWC, North Shore Community College, Salem State University, the North Shore Chamber of Commerce and the Essex County District Attorney's office, as well as Berry's step-daughter and step-granddaughter. 

Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon, who referred to the senator as "the Berry best," said there were "so many things that happened in this region that would not have happened without Fred."

One major project for the region that's finally coming to fruition and which has been strongly supported by Berry over the years is the new regional vocational high school in Danvers.

For Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt, fellow Tanner City native Berry "exemplifies Peabody pride."

"He inspires me and will continue to inspire countless others," said Bettencourt, who was strongly backed by Berry in the mayoral election last fall.

Danvers Town Manager Wayne Marquis said not only will the town miss Berry at the State House, but also the friendly "Fred at the other end of the phone." 

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll noted that Berry's activism has never been about his ego. "He just wants to help," she said. "It's classic Fred."

Berry, a Democrat who was born with cerebral palsy, was first elected to the state Senate in 1982. In recent years, he has served as the Majority Leader. During his time in office, among other accomplishments, Berry has been considered a champion for fellow residents with disabilities.

. The district includes Peabody, Salem, Beverly, Danvers and Topsfield.

Berry graduated from  and . Before he was elected to the Senate, he served two terms on the Peabody City Council.

Proceeds from the event benefited the Fred Berry Charitable Fund and local food pantries. Since its creation in 1982, his charitable fund has raised more than $1 million. It hosts a popular golf tournament each year. In recent years, he has also organized a high profile food drive each year during the holiday season.

Paul Feeney September 14, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Heres the truth--Fred Berry stabbed Peabody native John Slattery in the back with his public endorsement of non-Peabody native Lovely after issuing a public statement saying he would stay out of the race last year. Then he compounds the dirty deed by publically criticizing Johns strong union support-the same members that have supported Berry for years! The final blow was Berry's mailer and robocall on behalf of Lovely last week just before the election. Berry has had personal issues for many years--but like Lovely--the media wont follow-up. Fred Berry cost a good guy in John Slattery the election-and here is one union member who wont forget! I urge my fellow Peabody union members and everyone else NOT to donate to any of Fred Berry's charities. If I see him on the street--I will walk to the other side!
Janet Marino-Johnson September 14, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Paul is on the money here, and I am not a Slattery supporter. Mabye John Slattery should mount a sticker campaign against Lovely now! Its about time Berry gets called out for the dirty pool of making an endorsement for anyone when he promised he'd stay out of it last year! Then taking a cheap shot at Slattery for being "bought and paid for by the unions" in his endorsement release two weeks ago today. These are the SAME unions that have been in Berry's hip pocket for years. Fred Berry is a first class hypocrite and phony! I will not be donating to any of his charities ever! Hey Fred--good riddance!
John Wood September 14, 2012 at 08:47 PM
As a strong John Slattery supporter & union member, I too am disgusted by the actions of Fred Berry and he needs to be taken to the woodshed here for a verbal dressing down! How dare he endorse anyone, when he promised the public last year he would stay out it! His word means nothing and then he takes a cheap shot at John and the unions in his public statement supporting the airhead Lovely! The last straw was the robocall and mailer for Lovely the last week. That was the differance in the election! Its about time people like me and others tell the truth-Berry lives in Peabody and he cost Peabody native John Slattery the race! Fred Berry is not a good guy despite all that pap from the above story! Here is another person and his family that will never ever make a donation for anything Fred Berry is involved in! I think the previous poster is right on--John--please consider a sticker campaign against Lovely now! You can win it!
Richie Gambino September 15, 2012 at 04:55 AM
I salute my union brothers for supporting our friend John Slattery and calling Fred Berry out for the lousy move he made 2 weeks ago supporting that bubble head Lovely just because he got a phone call from Lt. Gov Murray (hows your driving)! John Slattery, you deserved so much better and we know that Berry's dishonorable move cost you the race! What kind of a guy goes against his public word, and turns his back on a home town guy--then insults our unions to boot! Fred Berry you made a big mistake here! I think a lot less of you now, I used to be a supporter!
Richie Gambino September 15, 2012 at 05:03 AM
I should add. Not a single alibi from any of the thousands of Berry supporters! I guess the truth hurts! Go Slattery!
Steve DeMeo September 16, 2012 at 03:56 AM
My union has given Fred Berry THOUSANDS of dollars in campaign contributions over the years so it was a real kick in the teeth to see this ingrate say John Slattery "has been bought & paid for by the unions!" in that press release put out by that foolish woman from salem before the election. Funny how the above story has no mention of his endorsement press release! Since Fred saw fit to insult 2 groups who have supported him for years--the unions & Slattery--I think Fred should give all that money back to the unions right now! Hey Fred, it was a lousy thing you did to the unions and a lousy thing you did to John Slattery. Fred, you cost a guy from Peabody the election, and knocked the same unions who have carried you for years! No union members will be supporting your charities any time soon! Fred, you are a traitor like Benedict Arnold--please move to Worcester ASAP--so you can be closer to the guy who told you who to endorse--that loser Tim Murray!
Tony Costa September 16, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Hey Fred Berry, all the flowery words from these stooge politicians in the press release you had written above fail to address a big problem you have now! Just like elections,actions have consequences! You have really angered & upset not 1 but 2 groups who have supported you with campaign contributions for many years--the unions & John Slattery and all of his supporters from Peabody! How can you insult union members like me and so many others, who have donated so much money to you for many years. How could turn your back on Peabody's John Slattery who has done so much for you over the years! Fred Berry, your endorsement of the dizzy blonde from salem cost our friend John the election. Fred, what purpose did it serve for you to be so nasty in the endorsement press release? Why is salem suddenly more important than our home town of Peabody? I challenge you to write a commentary here on the patch explaining to us why you had to be so insulting & rude to both unions and John Slattery--6 days before the election! You made a public statement last year that you would stay out of it! Fred Berry, I have lost all respect for you as a man because of such a low blow! No donations to your charities from my family & union brothers EVER! We now know who the REAL Fred Berry is !
Julie Curtis September 16, 2012 at 12:43 PM
A Year ago - less than a week before the primary Senator Berry was quoted as not going to endorse any candidate in the State Senate race as they were all good candidates. What happened a week later? You have lost all credibility Fred! I agree you should be forced to write the true reasons you went back on your word. As a union member, I am also appalled at how you justify all the union money you took for over 30 years and then demonized John Slattery for asking the union's support.
John Castelluccio (Editor) September 16, 2012 at 05:56 PM
You've all more than thoroughly expressed your shared opinions of Senator Berry on this point, which also has nothing to do with this particular article or the event itself that was covered, so let's move on. Nothing new or constructive is being expressed here -- the endorsement and the primary election were two weeks ago and you all had ample opportunity to comment on it at the time.

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