Age: 80 Address: Spruce Pine, North Carolina Date of Death: Sunday March 2, 2014 Arrangements: Webb Funeral Home
Details: J Frank Berry of Spruce Pine went home to be with the Lord on March 2, 2014 with loved ones at his side.
He was born November 9, 1933, in Fairview, Virginia to the late Lula Mae Duncan and Auburn E Berry, the twelfth of thirteen children. Frank often said his parents were so poor they couldn't afford a full first name for him.
As a child he helped his brothers make moonshine and also hid the location of the still from the Revenuers. When times were hard he used his squirrel hunting skills to help provide for the family. He walked over two miles to school every day. “Uphill both ways!” He relocated to Detroit in his early twenties, working first as a parking lot attendant, and then moved up to car sales, where he quickly became the top salesman of Volkswagen cars. He worked in the steel factory for over six years and was a strong Union supporter. Later he became a carpenter and owned his own business, Oakville Millworks, where he and his sons hand-crafted doors that graced fine homes across the United States and Canada. He named his doors after his favorite presidents. His top-notch door was named after Ronald Reagan, “the last true President.” He was a true patriot and believed that people counted more than corporations. He retired to North Carolina and wrote two books featuring his stories and dictionaries of “Mountain Tauk.” He traveled all over the region selling his books, telling his stories, and giving talks at regional colleges. He sold over 13,ooo books under the penname Ben Brouke. When he was seventy years old he designed and built his home in Spruce Pine, with help from his sons Richard and Jason.
Frank had many adventures but the one he was never able to live down was the time he was tearing down a chicken coop with a hammer. Unbeknownst to him there was an active beehive that became agitated as he knocked down the building, and quickly swarmed around his head. He managed to escape all the bees but one. In his determination to get the bee he raised his hammer and brought it down on the bee, killing it instantly. Unfortunately he lost sight of the fact that the bee had landed on his forehead. It was an impressive lump. For the rest of his life he received hammers as gifts.
He is survived by his wife Janet Bernice Walker Berry; whom he met while selling Volkswagens. He said he would do anything to sell a car, so when she said she'd buy the car if he married her, he agreed. They were happily married for over forty-five years, but the car didn't last that long.
He is also survived by his little sister June Williams, and his children: Deborah, David, Dan and wife Christine, George, Richard, Dave, Larry, and Jason and wife Stephanie, and grandchildren: Gary, Jonathan, Joshua, Kelly, Seth, Sarah, Emily, Brent, Colleen, Chelsea, Matthew, Denali, and Zoe, and great-grand children Tamara, Sophie, Lily, Jonathan, Ahrianna, Odin, and Jarrod.
Frank never met a stranger. He could start a conversation with anyone. He was curious about the world and made a lasting impression with everyone he met. He was a truly unique man with a great heart and a zest for life. We will all miss him dearly.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, March 7, 2014 at 2:00 pm at Bible Baptist Church in Spruce Pine.
Words of comfort may be e-mailed to the family by going to our website; www.webbfh.com.,selecting Mr. Berrys name and then you may sign his guestbook.
Webb Funeral Home in Spruce Pine, NC is assisting the Berry family.