Remembering Jack Berry

Jack Berry — beloved and longtime leader of Westport’s Boy Scout troop 36 — died early today. He stepped down — reluctantly, and with a fantastic sendoff — last spring, due to the effects of pancreatic cancer.

Jack Berry

Jack Berry

At last year’s retirement dinner, Zach Effman was awed by his scoutmaster’s devotion.

His incredible ability to see and bring out the best in others and his joy in doing so has been an inspiration to me, while I have had the privilege of seeing him doing what he does best. Without any hesitation, I can say that Mr. Berry is the best person I have ever known. I know that his presence in the troop will be missed, but I also know that his effect on my life will never fade.

Marshall Knutson praised:

With over 50 years of scouting experience under his belt, Mr. Berry amounts to no less than a scouting God. His unwavering devotion to scouting and his inspirational charisma make him perfect at what he does. Under his guidance, Troop 36 recruits more new scouts and pumps out more Eagle Scouts than any other troop in Connecticut, solidifying Mr. Berry’s reputation as one of the greatest scoutmasters ever. His skill lies in his ability to observe a scout’s strengths and weaknesses, and provide them with the leadership opportunities they would most likely succeed at.

A small group of the many Boy Scouts who honored Jack Berry last year.

A small group of the many Boy Scouts who honored Jack Berry last year.

Edward Hickson –another  Eagle, now a junior at Ithaca College — said:

Scouting turned out to be one of the highlights of high school for me, and I can say with complete conviction that it would not be the same if Mr. Berry had not been my scoutmaster….Mr. Berry was there every step of the way. His motivation and commitment to helping me advance in scouting and become a better person means he is an inspiration to me and to all the other scouts who have had the privilege of participating in his Troop 36.

Jack Berry was a Scout to the end. Today, coincidentally, is the 104th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.

10 responses to “Remembering Jack Berry

  1. Although my son is just a Cub Scout, we knew Jack through the annual Boy Scout ski trips. I was always impressed by how found found and fostered the best actions of his scouts, not only teaching them what to do but also recognizing them when they demonstrated positive actions.

    I am sorry that other children, including my son, will not have Jack to help guide them into adulthood.

  2. Brian Faucher

    RIP Jack, you were like a second father to me, and countless others, during your years leading the troop. Without you, I wouldn’t be the man I am today.

  3. Mary & Frank Kneisel

    This news is very, very sad. Our condolences to Sally and their two children. Jack was one of a kind and we will always remember him with nothing but kind and good thoughts.

  4. Chris Pinnell

    Gone Home. What sad sad news. A gentleman, and a pillar of Scouting has been lost. Many will mourn yet also celebrate his life. A special prayer to his family, and the wider Connecticut scouting family. From Scottish Scouting / Blair Atholl colleague Chris Pinnell. Jack has Gone home to be with his maker..

  5. Jack has been such an inspiration and role model for the youth of many in Westport and throughout scouting. Our hearts are very heavy and his inspiration, guidance, compassion, knowledge, and tireless dedication will be sorely missed. Our condolences to Sally and their two children.

  6. Jack Berry has gone home on the anniversary of BSA. That about sums up his life-long passion for Scouting. I don’t think he could have picked a more perfect day.

    For those who did not know him, they might think, “Oh, a Scoutmaster died.” But that is not enough to sum up the legacy that Jack left to thousands and thousands of youth. It is impossible to fathom the number of people he has touched directly and indirectly through his lifelong dedication to Boy Scouts. Tens of thousands of youth from our area and across the globe have experienced the National Boy Scout jamboree over the past several decades because of Jack’s amazing organizational skills. Many more Scouts have participated in his famous treks to the Scottish Jamborettes over the years. He has helped boys grow into fine amazing young men who know the value of giving back to the community – locally, nationally, and globally.

    There will never be another Jack Berry. Westport, Connecticut and the world is a sadder place today – but shines brightly because of the everlasting effect he has had on all of us.

    God bless you Jack Berry.

  7. If it weren’t for Jack Berry, I doubt that I, or many other of my fellow scouts, would be where we are today. Though I generally only spent a week of the year with him at Yawgoog (for 5 or 6 years, IIRC), they were some of the most formative experiences in my scouting career. His organizing of the CYC contingent to the 2005 National Jamboree was also an astonishing feat, one that I am truly grateful for. He always pushed us to achieve our best and more. My only regret is that I didn’t take his advice to heart until I was an older scout. He truly took the Scout Law, Oath, and Motto to heart (perhaps better than National ever did: I’ll be sure to sing Scout Vespers for him tonight.

  8. Jack was a friend, a leader and an inspiration to me throughout my involvement with Troop 36. Working with Jack, and watching my own son grow in Scouting is something I will always be thankful for. Me he rest in peace, and to his family our deepest sympathy and prayers.

  9. Flavien freedman

    I still remember my Troop 36 days with Jack’s son in the group, when Jack was first starting out. They were some of the best times of my youth, so it is with great sadness that I read this news. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

  10. Jack was an amazing leader who brought out the best in all the scouts and fought for inclusion, regardless of the national position. I totally agree with the comments above about Jack’s impact near and far. He was tireless in his dedication to the scouts. His organizational skills were renown. He provided and modeled inspiration and delight for scout and parent alike. It was a gift; an honor and a privilege for our family to have known and worked with him. He will be held tenderly in my heart. Linda Bruce

    Day is done, gone the sun,
    From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
    All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

    Fading light, dims the sight,
    And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
    From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.

    Thanks and praise, for our days,
    ‘Neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, neath the sky;
    As we go, this we know, God is nigh.

    Sun has set, shadows come,
    Time has fled, Scouts must go to their beds
    Always true to the promise that they made.

    While the light fades from sight,
    And the stars gleaming rays softly send,
    To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.