By Christopher Roberson
Following a short illness, former State Sen. Frederick Berry passed away on the morning of Nov. 13 at the age of 68.
“With great sadness, the family of former Sen. Fred Berry shares the news of his passing,” Berry’s family wrote in a Facebook post. “The family appreciates all the support and well wishes they have received during this difficult time and asks for privacy as they make final arrangements to celebrate Fred’s life.”
Born with cerebral palsy, Berry graduated from Bishop Fenwick High School, Boston College and Antioch College. He then served on the Peabody City Council from 1979 to 1983. Following his years on the council, Berry defeated five other candidates for the seat representing the Second Essex District – a position he would hold for the next three decades.
After Berry was elected, he and his wife, Gayle, founded the Fred Berry Charitable Foundation, which generated more than $1 million for homeless shelters, food pantries and education.
Prior to becoming the Senate majority leader in 2003, Berry was the assistant majority floor leader from 1995 to 1996 and the second assistant majority floor leader from 1991 to 1994.
Berry’s successor, State Sen. Joan Lovely, remembered him as “the wittiest Irishman I’ve ever known, who loved his district, his colleagues, his staff, his friends and his family.”
Senate Majority Leader Karen Spilka also offered her condolences. “Fred was a champion for the voiceless, a tireless advocate for people with developmental disabilities and an important voice in the Massachusetts Senate; he will be greatly missed,” she said.
Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said Berry was a friend and a mentor. “The world is a better place because of Fred Berry,” he said. “We’ve lost an indomitable force for those who are on the fringes. His example of humility, hard work, charm and humor is unmatched.”