James Alfred Berry was born in Flint Michigan January 14, 1939 to Carolyn Stock and Herbert Paul Berry. Jim arrived into a family with an older sister Anita and grandmother Nellie Berry. Four years later the twins Carol and Darrel arrived.
Jim's father known as Bud must have seen a mechanical bent in Jim and around 14 Jim was given the opportunity to have a Model A Ford the family had inherited if he could tear it apart and put it back together. In order to do this Jim haunted the local Linden car dealership Close Chevrolet where the mechanic would tell him what to do next in rebuilding the Model A and loan him tools. Because of Jim's ready smile the people at Close nicknamed him Sunshine. The nickname didn't disappear, many years later nurses who were treating him would call him Sunshine as well.
After graduation Jim entered the Air Force where he was an electronics technician. Returning home he went to work for IBM and after marrying went back to college where he studied Industrial Education. He taught in Rochester and Kalkaska Michigan and later Saginaw Michigan. While teaching in Kalkaska he built a home overlooking Torch Lake during summer vacation.
Jim had two daughters. Some of his fondest memories were the year he was involved in his daughter Melissa's growth from a baby to a toddler. He regretted not being able to be involved the same way in his second daughter's life. He was very proud of the people both daughters had become and wished that he had been able to see them more often.
Jim was always a person who looked at the glass as being half full and after Jim lost his house to divorce he took his sailboat and move to Florida. In Florida Jim was able to live the life most of us can only dream of. Living aboard his sailboat Jim lived in Port Richey and later Marco Island where he ran a sailing school and built docks, and was a boat captain for various excursions including Everglades National Park Boat Service where he took tours out into the Ten Thousand Islands. Jim was a favorite among tourists many who would return year after year asking for him.
When Jim got tired of building docks in Florida's off season he started working summers on an 80' dinner boat the Cumberland Princess that cruised Houghton Lake, later he also captained the Genesee Paddle Boat at Crossroads Village.
Among his jobs in later years Jim assisted his brother Darrel in doing fireworks shows, did punch outs for a local builder, and worked as a substitute teacher for the Linden, Holly, and Swartz Creek School systems where his students would frequently call out "Hey Mr. Berry!" when they would see him outside school. He loved interacting with his students and would be thrilled when kids he'd had years before would stop him on the street telling him about their lives.
Many also got to know Jim from North Side Antique Shop in Linden where he and GeorgeAnna worked at restoring the building, Jim even constructed an awning for the store out of a bed frame.
Jim was diagnosed with Parkinson's a few years ago, which slowed him but did not stop him. At that point he found Rock Steady Boxing for Parkinson's in Midland where he would commute several times a week. The exercises helped him and the friendships he made were invaluable.
A couple days before his death Jim had suggested a reunion of friends and family. To that end, after Jim's Memorial Ceremony at Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly Michigan on Friday July 12 at 1:30 PM we would like to extend an invitation for friends, family and acquaintances to join in a Memorial along with reminiscing and celebrating Jim's life, sharing a lunch at the Linden Masonic Temple in Linden following the ceremony at Great Lakes.
While it seems to be form to say that a person leaves people to grieve, Jim has not left those that love him to grieve since he remains in their hearts.
Jim was preceded in death by his grandmother Nellie Berry, his sister Carol Berry, his father H.P. Berry, and his mother Carolyn Berry.
For information about the memorial service or Jim's life celebration please contact GeorgeAnna Berry at 810-444-6465
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