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Sunday, February 09, 2014

Jack Berry, Longtime Westport Scoutmaster, Dies at 71

UPDATE (adds services, obituary)  John J. “Jack” Berry Jr., a longtime Westport Boy Scout leader, died Saturday at The Connecticut Hospice in Branford after battling pancreatic cancer, the Troop 36 Leadership Committee announced today on its Facebook page. He was 71. Image
Jack Berry: his troop excelled at producing Eagle Scouts. Contributed photo

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Scoutmaster Emeritus Jack Berry,” the committee said. “Jack died Saturday morning and not coincidentally on the 104th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.”

Friends may call on Thursday, Feb. 13 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Lesko Polke Funeral Home, 1209 Post Road, Fairfield, with a Mass of Christian Burial Friday, Feb. 14, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Luke Parish, 84 Long Lots Road, Westport, with burial to follow at Oak Lawn Cemetery, 1530 Bronson Road, Fairfield. There will be a reception to follow at St. Luke Church Hall.

Last June, Troop 36 inducted three Eagle Scouts at a Court of Honor ceremony at the Church of the Assumption in Westport. They were the last to achieve Eagle Scout status under the leadership of Berry, who retired a short time earlier due to ill health.

He had been Troop 36 Scoutmaster since 1984. His troop was known for inducting more Eagle Scouts than any other in Connecticut.

The family provided the following obituary:

Jack Berry, longtime Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 36 in Westport, passed away Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. He was a devoted husband, loving father, and inspirational leader to generations of boys in Westport, the Connecticut Yankee Council, and Scouting contingents around the world.

Born on Aug. 27, 1942 in Cambridge, Mass., John J. Berry, Jr. grew up in Scouting, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout at the age of 13. As he went through Matignon High School and graduated from Boston College, he continued to work with Scout troops in the Boston area. 

Jack entered the Army in 1964, where he was a first lieutenant and commanding officer of a Mobile Data Processing Unit. His experience in the Army led him to a 43-year career at IBM, starting out as a systems engineer. 

Jack received his M.S. in administration from George Washington University in 1974 and following several positions in sales and marketing, became media marketing manager for the IBM/ System 390 Division in 1991.

He was an executive producer of 40 video and multimedia productions for IBM and received five Telly Awards for his work. 

He fully developed his showmanship skills in this role which he went on to share at the many campfires, Eagle ceremonies, and Jamboree events he led for the Boy Scouts. Jack ended his career in analyst relations at IBM Global Finance before retiring in 2010.

Jack started out his Scouting career in Westport as Cubmaster of Pack 192 in the early 1980s and took over as Scoutmaster of Troop 36 when his son bridged into Boy Scouts. 

Under his leadership, more than 70 scouts achieved the rank of Eagle. In addition to his troop, he was pivotal in leading the Connecticut Yankee Council’s contingent to six National Boy Scout Jamborees, including inviting international Scouts from Japan, Scotland, Poland and several other countries.

Jack led contingents to five Jamborettes in Scotland, giving hundreds of boys an experience of a lifetime.

For 26 years, he ran an annual ski trip to Mount Snow, Vermont for hundreds of Scouts from around the council.

For the last six years, Jack has served on the Connecticut Yankee Council board of directors, most recently serving as the vice president of program, where he has been responsible for all of the programs in the Council. 

Jack has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Silver Beaver, the Scoutmaster of Award of Merit, the International Scouting Award, the District Award of Merit, and the Outstanding Eagle Scout Award.

Lord Robert Baden-Powell once said, “The real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try to leave this world a little better than you found it, and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time, but have done your best.”

Jack’s greatest joy was helping young people realize their potential. His ability to see and bring out the best in people, and to encourage everyone he met to strive to reach a little bit higher, will be remembered for years to come. 

Jack was an inspiration to his family, friends, colleagues, and the thousands of Scouts whose lives he touched.

He will be deeply missed by his wife, Sally; daughter and son-in-law, Lori & Garth Landers and son, Christopher Berry; grandchildren, Zane and Odin Landers; as well as his brother, Robert H. Berry; and sister, Judy Gully; godchildren, James Gablosky, Cheryl Demontreux, and Robert P. Berry; and his many cousins, nieces and nephews.

Calling hours will be held on Thursday, Feb. 13 from 4-8 p.m. at Lesko & Polke Funeral Home, 1209 Post Road, Fairfield. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Friday, Feb. 14 at 10:30 a.m. directly at St. Luke Church in Westport.  Interment will follow at Oaklawn Cemetery in Fairfield.

The family requests that donations be made in Jack’s memory to the Jack Berry Jamboree Scholarship Fund, c/o Connecticut Yankee Council, 60 Wellington Road, Milford, CT 06460.

To order flowers online, travel directions, or to sign his guest register, please visit


Posted 02/09/14 at 09:45 PM


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Our son, Michael, was among the three young men who were mentored by Jack Berry this past year. Jack’s passion and dedication is something that not only impacted Mikey during his journey to Eagle Scout, but has become in no small way, part of the fabric of his own bergeoning character as a young man.

Words cannot express how grateful we are, as a family, that Jack Berry came into our son’s life. Nor have we the words to express how dreadfully he will be missed.

Our hearts go out to Jack’s wife, Sally, and their children. I would personally and publicly like to thank them for sharing Mr. Berry with us all.

Posted by Susan L. Feliciano on February 10, 2014 at 08:31 PM | #

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