October 5, 2006
She was born August 26, 1923 in Hunter, the daughter of Dayton L. Benjamin, a Greene County Deputy Sheriff, and Ellen M. Lyons, who immigrated from Ireland.
While in grammar school, Ellen Berry placed second in the New York State spelling bee. Later, she modeled for the New York apple industry as the Hudson Valley Apple Queen. She graduated from Hunter-Tannersville Central School and went on to attend Spencer's Business School and the New Paltz State Teacher's College.
During World War II, she served as a Technical Corporal in the Medical Corps, aiding soldiers in a psychiatric unit on Long Island. She married Franklin Berry in 1946 and they moved from Poughkeepsie to Catskill in 1955.
Mrs. Berry became deeply involved in the community, serving as Vice President and Secretary of the Fortnightly Club, and as a Director of the Mid-Hudson Heart Association. She and her husband were long-standing active members of the Catskill Country Club, and they skied as a family on Hunter Mountain every weekend for many winters. There, Mrs. Berry became involved in the learn-to-ski program.
She worked for several years as a reporter-photographer for the Catskill Daily Mail, writing a column called "Bits of Business". She went on to become the first employee of the Columbia-Greene Community College, where she acted as Secretary to the Board of Trustees, was later appointed Clerk and eventually assisted the President and the Dean of Administration. She also served on the Citizen's Advisory Committee for centralizing the Catskill School system.
Mrs. Berry was devoted to her family and loved her home. Her granddaughter Caitlin wrote of her, "She is strong, brave, brillant, and honest. She preserves the beautiful traditions. She grows with the times." Among the traditions she preserved were the holiday dinners that gathered the family around her table.
She lived at the center of a busy and loving circle, and as times changed she maintained a quiet dignity and an ever-ready wit. She knew the answers to all the crossword puzzles in the New York Times, and the names of all the birds at her window.
Mrs. Berry is predeceased by her husband Franklin Berry; two brothers, John Benjamin and Dr. Dayton Benjamin; and a beloved grandson, Kyle Berry.
Mrs. Berry is survived by two sons: Michael (Jennifer) Berry of Evergreen, Colorado and Kevin (Debbie) Berry of Catskill; a daughter, Maureen (Michael) Berry Bliss of Catskill; a sister, Katherine Elliot Wilson of West Chester, Pennsylvania; a brother, Edwin Benjamin of Winter Haven, Florida; six grandchildren: Jedediah, Sean, Caitlin, Annika, Kellin, and Tate; many nieces and nephews; and cousins in the U.S. and Ireland.
Private services for the family will be held on Monday at the Town of Catskill Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Ellen's name may be made to the National Audubon Society, Dept. W, 700 Broadway, New York, NY 10003.
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