Obituary of Vivian Mae Berry
Vivian Mae Berry, nee Washington was born in Front Royal Virginia on January 23, 1929 to the late Silas and Daisy Bell Banks Washington. At an early age, Vivian relocated with her family to Hagerstown, Maryland, and ultimately to Philadelphia, PA where she was educated in the Philadelphia City Public School System. Upon graduation from West Philadelphia High School she continued her studies in nursing. Vivian worked at West Philadelphia Memorial Hospital until she relocated to New Jersey where she met, and married Henry Cecil Berry. Interestingly, Vivian and Henry were born on the same day, month, and year!!!! To this union God added seven children.
Vivian had a special compassion for people, especially youth. She served as a volunteer in several community positions and, become a vocal advocate for children in the Newark Public School System. Vivian also worked as a Senior Citizen Coordinator for the Roseville Coalition and held that position until she retired. Vivian’s retirement did not mean rest. Vivian continued to work in her community becoming a dedicated District Leader in her ward.
Giving was a hallmark of Vivian’s life. It was not uncommon for Vivian and her family to be found preparing book bags with school supplies for students, care packages for the homeless, or Socks for Vets. For many years she presented a dictionary to the valedictorian of various schools in the city in recognition of their achievement. Vivian instilled in her children a wholesome respect toward everyone, and to always put God first in everything. Vivian attempted to inspire, and challenge all the children she encountered throughout her life to consider these same values.
Vivian had a fiery passion for the Lord, and unflagging zeal for righteousness. Vivian was a prayer warrior long before the term became fashionable. Vivian began her walk with Christ at an early age. Along the way she would become a member of Newark Gospel Tabernacle. Vivian’s journey of righteousness led her to St. John FBH Church where she was ordained as an Evangelist. Her spiritual path would guide her to Citadel of Hope Mission and later to Refuge of Hope Mission where she became church mother and remained a faithful member until her health began to fail. Mother Berry’s mantra was: “Let my works speak for me” and those works spoke volumes. She touched the lives of all she encountered.
Throughout her life Vivian was a kingdom builder for the Lord. Her calling to evangelism inspired her to start various missions. These included prayer groups, charitable work, work with the youth in her church/community, and opening her home during summers for vacation bible school. Out of her own expenses Vivian she would take the youth of her community on various educational outings.
Vivian was preceded in death by her parents, brother, Silas Jr., and her husband “Sonny”. She leaves to cherish her memory 7 children, Rick (Linda) of Virginia Beach, VA, James (Inez) of Edison, NJ, Silas of Seattle, Washington, Olivia Meeks (Dexter), Dora, Vivian Canty (Marion) of New Jersey and David of Norwich, CT., two special daughters in Christ, Mary and Harriet. Left to cherish her memory is 15 grandchildren: Anthony, Kelli, Sharhonda, Christina, James Jr., Carl, Tashombe, Monika, Beverly, Shawn, Tanisha, Melvin, Jessica, Marcel, and Joshua; 25 great grandchildren, a host of nieces, nephews, extended family and friends. The life she led is the legacy she leaves.