Orange County Branch Newsletter

November 2016

Branch News

In Memoriam Hugh Berry


Fullerton city officials are mourning the loss of a former city employee who played a major role in shaping the landscape of the city today.

Hugh L. Berry, who, in his 32 years with the city, held the titles of assistant city manager, director of engineering, city engineer, and executive director of the Fullerton  Redevelopment Agency, died Oct. 26 at his Fullerton home.  Death was due to natural causes. He was 82. 
“It’s hard to find a project built in Fullerton during the 1970s and ‘80s that Hugh’s name is not on the dedication plaque, or that he was not an integral part of,” said former Fullerton City Manager Chris Meyer.  “Underpasses at Lemon and Gilbert to ease congestion caused by train traffic, the inception of the redevelopment agency, which brought with it the shopping centers on three corners of Harbor at Orangethorpe, the Marriott Hotel, the Arboretum, the CSUF sports complex, a restaurant in a park, and the infrastructure to support the revitalization of the downtown.  
“Hugh was also responsible for a series of new water reservoirs to sustain a rapidly growing city, a bridge between two oil fields that is more a sculpture than a bridge, and the many unseen things that lie beneath the asphalt of our streets that improved and sustain our city.”
Mr. Berry was born June 10, 1934, in Downey, and was one of the nine children of George and Lucy Berry, whose home was located within the Rancho Los Amigos property. He attended Downey High School, and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Loyola University, and a Master of Science in public administration from California State University, Fullerton.

Mr. Berry came to work for Fullerton in 1960 after a stint in the Air Force.  His first major assignment for the city was to improve the municipal airport, which included extending the runways to their present length of 3,120 feet;  building new taxiways on the north side of the field;  and extending existing taxiways.  The project also included improvements to the Airport tower, which had been constructed in 1948 with FAA funds. 

From there Mr. Berry was given the task of expanding the growing city’s street systems to accommodate the new residential developments springing up around town. He also played key roles in the planning and development of the current City Hall, the Fullerton Main Library, the Hunt Branch Library and the Fullerton Museum Center, as well as the conversion of the old City Hall into what is now the Fullerton Police Department.

As he began moving up the ranks at City Hall, Mr. Berry played significant roles in many landmark projects around the city, including bringing businesses such as the Price Club (now Costco) to the city, which brought significant sales tax revenue. 

Other key projects in which he played a major role were the creation of the Fullerton Arboretum at the CSUF campus;  the Marriott Hotel, also located on the campus;  the development of the busy Fullerton Transportation Center, which included saving and relocating the historic Union-Pacific Depot onto the property and developing it as a restaurant space;  the restoration of the Muckenthaler Cultural Center;  the master planning of the east Coyote Hills areas;  and the development of Vista Park and the popular Summit House Restaurant in northeast Fullerton.

He also guided development of the Harbor Boulevard, Gilbert Street and Lemon Street Underpasses, and the extension of Gilbert north through to La Habra.

As executive director of the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency, Mr. Berry headed up efforts to save and restore historic buildings in the downtown; restored Plummer Auditorium, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places;  and guided the restoration of the Old City Hall (Police Department), which is also on the National Register.

Mr. Berry was also active on many county agencies and committees, and was instrumental in helping with the formation of the Orange County Transportation Authority which funds transportation projects throughout Orange County.

On the home front, Mr. Berry and his wife, Carol, helped establish the St. Angela Merici Catholic Church in Brea, where his children attended school and where he and Carol were active.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Berry is survived by sons Douglas (Jennifer) and Randall (Debbie); daughters Kimberly (George) Lane, Brenda (Geoff) Sage, Kathleen (John) Peterson, Diane (Regina Stoops) Berry, and Lisa (Tom) VanDorpe; brother Don Berry;  sisters Janet Berry and Donna Appel;  and by 16 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.  He is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Hugh Berry scholarship fund at St. Angela Merici Parish School:  stangelabrea.org, 714-529-6372, 575 S. Walnut Avenue, Brea CA 92821.

A private memorial service for Mr. Berry will take place among immediate family over the Thanksgiving weekend.

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