Remembering Hope Berry

Hope Berry — a 1987 Staples High School graduate, and social justice advocate — died in June, from complications of pneumonia. She was 49.

Her death was little noticed in Westport. In national LGBT circles, it was big news.

Hope was the daughter of a gay man and a lesbian. Her father, David  Berry, died of AIDS in 1989. Her mother, Karen Veronica, founded Bread & Roses, the AIDS hospice just over the Westport border in Georgetown.

Her obituary calls Hope “a queer femme, a political junkie and activist, a mom to daughter Lila, a long-time ASL interpreter and active member of LGBT deaf communities, and a hub of the spokes of many communities.”

Hope Berry

She served in many roles with COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere), including advisor to directors and mentor to staff, board members and youth leaders.

The organization called Hope “the keeper of our institutional memory, history and legend. (She) helped transform our nation’s concept of family.”

At a time when children of LGBT parents were ostracized, physically attacked and removed from their homes, Hope was a frequent TV guest, and often quoted in the press.

Professionally, she worked as an ASL interpreter. In 2003 she married Dion Manley, president of the transgender organization FTM International. Their daughter was born the next year.

Shortly before her death, she began a new career in hospitality with Marriott.

A memorial gathering in Hope’s name is set for the Benedectine Grange in West Redding on Wednesday, August 29 (1 p.m.). In lieu of flowers, donations to handle final expenses and provide for Lila can be made here.

5 responses to “Remembering Hope Berry

  1. Hope was passionate about justice of all kinds even before middle school. It is such a tragic loss to many communities, including her very wide circle of friends, which happily, included me. Although her life was cut way too short, her legacy will literally live on forever, carried on by those whom she empowered.

  2. Hannelore Reich

    Love, Rita

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Thomas B Hood Jr

    I did not know Hope, but reading of her efforts to make a difference, to help others and to make to world a better place than she found it, I am sadden to hear of her passing.

  4. Tracey (Berke) Nauright

    I have known Hope since grade school and am still completely devastated by her passing. One of my (among many of our) favorite memories was her teaching us to sign the alphabet so we could talk in class without the teacher ever knowing. Oh, and her hair. Her beautiful hair… She was the most kind and loving soul, my heart breaks for her sweet daughter, Lila.

  5. Mary Cookman Schmerker SHS '58

    I wish our paths had crossed. I’m sure I would have loved her for her dedication and hard work.