In Memoriam: Betsy G. Berry served the community

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The late Betsy Berry (center) receives a greeting kiss from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., following a meeting in Chicago, (left) as her husband and noted civil rights advocate Edwin C. ‘Bill” Berry smilingly looks on.

Social justice advocate and wife of noted civil rights activist Edwin C. “Bill” Berry

Betsy G. Berry of Michigan City, Indiana peacefully passed away on April 26, 2019, at the age of 99.

She spent an impressive lifetime dedicated to promoting civil rights and social justice causes with her husband Edwin C. “Bill” Berry. She moved to Rittenhouse, a senior living facility three years ago, having relocated from Chicago to Michigan City, Indiana in the late 1980s.

Born in Chicago, Betsy graduated from Roosevelt University, and met her husband-to-be while volunteering at the Chicago Urban League. They were married in September 1956 in Milwaukee, WI.

Her husband was a nationally renowned and highly respected civil rights leader who was executive director of the Chicago Urban League for 14 years. He worked with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a key leader in the 1960s ‘Chicago Freedom’ Movement against housing discrimination.

Bill Berry headed both mayoral campaigns for the late Mayor Harold Washington, Chicago’s first African-American chief executive, and led Washington’s first transition team in 1983. He preceded Betsy in death in May, 1987.

Betsy Berry’s life was filled with activism and adventure, from serving in the U.S. Navy in the 1940s swabbing the deck and performing other military assignments as one of the WAVES, to working for the civil rights movement helping to prepare meals for the historic, legendary anti-segregation marches in Selma, Alabama, to a successful career as a real estate agent in Chicago’s Hyde Park area.

After moving to Michigan City, Betsy worked with the Three Oaks Food Pantry, volunteered at the Homeless Shelter, and was on the Literacy Advisory board of the Michigan City Public Library where she tutored English as a second language. She was a mentor at the “Hours for Ours” program at the Michigan City schools and served as a board member of the North Central Community Action Agency.

Betsy and Bill Berry had five adopted children: Myron H. Wahls, Detroit, MI (deceased); Joseph M. Berry, Leigh Acres, FL; Charles Carter, Milwaukee, WI; Westina Matthews Shatteen, Savannah, GA; and Melanie Berry, Boynton Beach, FL. They have three grandchildren; one great grandchild.

A memorial service for the late Mrs. Betsy G. Berry will be held Saturday May 18, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the chapel of St. John’s United Church of Christ, 101 St. John Rd., Michigan City, Indiana (219) 872-9121.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to Hours for Ours, c/o Unity Foundation, 422 Franklin St., Suite C, Michigan City, IN 46360.

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