Merrill Ray Berry passed away Saturday Nov. 5, 2011, at the young age of 73, after a very difficult year battling cancer. He is now sitting in heaven next to the best fishing hole where the water is always calm, the bait is always plentiful, and the catch is always on.
Berry was born July 21, 1938 in Brewster, KS to Oscar and Grace (Warner) Berry. He was schooled in Brewster, KS. and attended college at Garden City Community College. Berry served in the Navy from 1958 to 1963. He married the love of his life Charlotte “Kay” Ewalt on June 3, 1962 in Garden City, KS. Kay passed away Jan 10, 1994.
They moved to Billings, MT in 1966. Berry and Kay were doubly blessed, first with the adoption of son James Ray in 1968 and again in 1971 with the adoption of their daughter Kimberly Kay. Berry was a mechanic by heart and owned Berry’s Texaco for many years. Berry touched the lives of many throughout his various careers including Balero Speedway, Poly Vista, Goodyear, A to Z Tire, Tire Supply, and most recently for the city of Billings. Through his travels across Montana for many years delivering tires, he made many friends. He would always talk about the people he met and always knew the best place to stop for a good meal no matter where we were.
He married Phyllis Jefferson in Oct, 1994. They divorced in 2004.
The light of Berry’s life was his kids and grandkids. Rarely did one of their events pass that Berry wasn’t there, whether it was baseball, music, soccer, gymnastics, theater or even Donuts for Dads. If Berry knew about it, he was there for his grandkids.
Berry loved to dance! His favorite dancing spots were Montana Chad’s, VFW, American Legion and The Wrangler in Grass Range. He has so many friends who will miss him dearly. You all have a special place in his heart; he talked about so many of you. Thank you to all of you.
The family wishes to thank Dr. Holbrook and staff at Deaconess Medical Center in Spokane, WA as well as the very caring staff at Valley Health Care Center.
Berry is preceded in death by his parents, wife Kay, infant sister at birth and brothers Jerry, Gail, and Morris.
Survivors include son Jim Berry and his wife Pam, grandsons Samuel and Eli; daughter Kim Stief and her husband Brian, grandson Jordan and granddaughter Hannah, all of Billings; “granddaughter” Nicole Yost of Bozeman; sister Merna Dautel of Goodland, KS.; several nieces and nephews; and special family friend Randi Friez of Billings.
The casket will be open at Michelotti-Sawyers for visitation on Wednesday beginning at 10 a.m. and continue until 7 p.m. Friday, at which time cremation will take place. Memorial services will be held at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at Faith Chapel, 517 Shiloh Rd, north entrance. Inurnment and military honors will follow at Sunset Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Billings. Reception will follow at the Elks Lodge, 934 Lewis Ave. Memorials may be made to Riverstone Health Care and Hospice Services.
Dad, I love you and miss you so much. May the music play on and on for you and mom and may your dancing feet never tire. I have always and will always be very proud to be your daughter. I love you dad. Kimmie Kay.
On behalf of the “Big Country Band”, I would like to express our sincere sympathy to the family of Merrill. He was always a welcome sight on the dance floor. He had a way of making everyone happy. “Berry” will be greatly missed by this “Bald headed piano player” as he would call me. Keep on dancin’ up there and someday we’ll be watching you out there on the floor again.