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Friends, Family, Colleagues Recall the friendly 'Fred at the Other End of the Phone'

Hundreds gathered on Thursday night to celebrate outgoing state Senate Majority leader Fred Berry's work.

Unique, masterful, loyal, hilarious, inspirational, compassionate, admirable, generous, committed and "the Berry best" were just some of the words used to describe outgoing state Sen. Fred Berry at a Thursday at the . 

Led by Master of Ceremonies Nelson Benton, a longtime former editor at the Salem News, Berry's praises were sung by Gov. Deval Patrick and Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, alongside hundreds of state and local officials, friends and family members. They all remembered Berry's 30 years on Beacon Hill, represeting the Second Essex District, which includes Danvers plus, currently, Beverly, Peabody, Salem and Topsfield.

In a video presentation, members of the community expressed their gratitude for Berry. Speakers included representatives from , HAWC, , Salem State University, the North Shore Chamber of Commerce and the Essex County District Attorney's office, as well as Berry's step-daughter and step-granddaughter.

Danvers Town Manager Wayne Marquis said not only will the town miss Berry at the State House, but also the friendly "Fred at the other end of the phone." 

Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon, who referred to the senator as "the Berry best," said there were "so many things that happened in this region that would not have happened without Fred."

One major project for the region that's finally coming to fruition and which has been strongly supported by Berry over the years is .

For Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt, fellow Tanner City native Berry "exemplifies Peabody pride."

"He inspires me and will continue to inspire countless others," said Bettencourt, who was strongly backed by Berry in the mayoral election last fall.

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll noted that Berry's activism has never been about his ego. "He just wants to help," she said. "It's classic Fred."

Berry, a Democrat who was born with cerebral palsy, was first elected to the state Senate in 1982. In recent years, he has served as the Majority Leader. During his time in office, among other accomplishments, Berry has been considered a champion for fellow residents with disabilities.

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Berry graduated from  and . Before he was elected to the Senate, he served two terms on the Peabody City Council.

Proceeds from the event benefited the Fred Berry Charitable Fund and local food pantries. Since its creation in 1982, his charitable fund has raised more than $1 million. It hosts a popular golf tournament each year. In recent years, he has also organized a high profile food drive each year during the holiday season.

Julie Curtis September 15, 2012 at 06:49 PM
As a Danvers native, I must say that Fred Berry deserves no accolades. For 30 years Fred held his hands out to the unions always looking for more money. Even when he had no one running against him and even with thousands of dollars in a war chest, Fred came looking for more money from the unions. And right before he leaves office and even though he publicly said he would not endorse anyone for the State Senate race, what does Fred do, he not only endorses Joan Lovely but demonizes John Slattery for actively seeking the union's support. Interesting that it was perfectly alright for Fred to grab the union's support when it was for him, but it is not okay for John Slattery to do the same. Kind of a disgusting isn't it Fred!!

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