State Senator Fred Berry, accompanied by family members, bid farewell to his colleagues and the State House Thursday evening in an emotional speech in the Senate chambers.
Berry, the Senate majority leader and a Peabody Democrat, is retiring after 30 consecutive years representing Danvers, along with Beverly, Peabody, Salem and Topsfield.
The Salem News reports that Berry, while sentimental, injected some levity and his ready wit into his remarks Thursday, even poking fun at the fact that his cerebral palsy has made his speech difficult to follow oftentimes.
The Salem News reports that Berry told one story of how his wife, Gayle, who is a physical therapist, suggested she could help improve his speech. “Honey, I’ve won ten elections in a row. You think I want them to know what I’m saying now,” Berry recalled.
A number of Berry's colleagues -- and former Senate presidents Tom Birmingham and Robert Travaglini -- offered their own praise of the longtime Senator, calling him a role model.
Berry recalled how he “wanted to bring change" and "make the world a better place” through his public service.
He said three decades have come and gone and he now moves on to “a new life and new challenges,” reports the Salem News.
After leaving the Senate, the 62-year-old Peabody native plans to spend time with Work Inc. in Boston, a non-profit that "develops community based employment and other programs for individuals with disabilities."
Berry, a graduate of Bishop Fenwick High School and Boston College, won his first term in the Senate in 1982 and also served two terms on the Peabody City Council. He also has a master's degree in education from Antioch College.
The Salem News reports that Thursday's ceremony ended with a salute to late Peabody state Rep. Spiliotis, who died Nov. 29.