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Dr. Robert E. Berry, age 91, of Roanoke, Virginia, passed away in the arms and hearts of his children on August 20, 2021 at Brandywine Assisted Living in Kennett Square, PA. He was the husband of the late Margaret Valentine Berry, with whom he shared 66 years of marriage. Born in Columbia, South Carolina he was son of the late Russell Harmon Berry and the late Miriam Wales Berry.
Dr. Berry, Bob to his friends, began his career as a dedicated clinician. A graduate of Dickinson College (1951) and Jefferson Medical College (1955), he completed a residency in General and Thoracic Surgery at Methodist Hospital in Philadelphia. He left his first practice after training to serve as a medical missionary and the only surgeon for the entire country of Nepal. Foreshadowing his impending academic career, he trained local physicians to be surgeons and performed the first open heart surgery in Nepal’s history. He also provided care to mountaineers Barry Bishop and Willi Unsoeld of the 1963 National Geographic Survey Expedition to Mount Everest. When they were helicoptered from base camp to Kathmandu with frostbite, he jerry rigged whirlpools from halved kerosene barrels and pumps that were supplied by the US Army Corps of Engineers. In the latter part of his career, he was singularly proud of establishing the Noninvasive Vascular Laboratory at Roanoke Memorial and serving as its first director.
Dr. Berry had an illustrious career as an academic general and thoracic surgeon. He spent the majority of his career in Roanoke, VA, where he served as Chief of Surgery, Chief of Thoracic Surgery and Director of Surgical Education at Roanoke Memorial Hospitals. After 36 years he retired as a Professor Emeritus of Surgery at the University of Virginia. His CV lists over 50 articles and abstracts, and in his retirement he published a book on the history of the Association of Program Directors in Surgery.
He was a member of over thirty professional organizations including serving in leadership positions in nine. His career highlights included serving as Second Vice-President of the American College of Surgeons; President of the Virginia Chapter of the American College of Surgeons; President of the Association of the Program Directors in Surgery; President of the Virginia Surgical Society; and President of the Virginia Chapter of the American Cancer Society. In 2003 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Virginia Chapter of the American College of Surgeons.
Bob is survived by his children and their spouses; Jan Berry Schroeder (Mark) of Chadds Ford, PA, Robert E. Berry, Jr. (Diane) of Walpole, MA, and Russell E. Berry (April) of New Oxford, PA; grandchildren Zachary (Kristina), Katherine (Michael), Rab (Al), Nicholas (Madalyne), Evan, Bonaire (Samuel), and Wren; and great-grandson, Miles Robert.
Services will be held privately, with a planned memorial following the pandemic.
If you would like to make a contribution in his memory, you are invited to donate to the Carilion Clinic Foundation’s “Dr. Robert Berry Education Fund” which provides education opportunities for outstanding surgical residents. Go to http://carilionfoundation.org/give and click on “Donate Now”, then under “Designation” click on “Dr. Robert Berry Education Fund”; or give to your local NPR station or WVTF, the NPR station for southwest and central Virginia which Bob and wife Margy fervently supported.
Arrangements are by Matthew J. Grieco of Grieco Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc. (1-800-FUNERAL). To view his online obituary, please visit www.griecofunerals.com .
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