History of Berry Funeral Home
Since 1928, the Berry family and the dedicated, highly qualified staff of Berry Funeral Home have made it one of the finest funeral homes in East Tennessee.
The Ralph L. Berry Funeral Home was founded in 1928 by Ralph Lawson Berry. Initially located in the old South Knoxville Baptist Church building at 400 Island Home, the funeral home moved to 208 Blount Ave. in 1935. The stock-held firm changed leadership in 1936, and the Berry family left and operated Goodwill Funeral Home at the south side of the Gay Street Bridge. In 1938 the former Ralph L. Berry Funeral Home changed its name, and the Berry family was able to use the “Berry” name again for its funeral home. Ralph L. Berry Sr. served as president of the firm, his son Fred O. Berry Sr. served as vice president, and Edward S. Weigel served as secretary-treasurer. During the next few years, Ralph Sr.’s two other sons, Ralph L. (R.L.) Berry Jr. and Earl Berry, and nephew Walter Berry joined the business.
Fred O. Berry Sr. served as a pharmacist mate in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Through his experiences and observations as a medic he realized the benefits that air transport afforded the sick and injured. When he returned home from Brazil, he was determined to pioneer an air ambulance service. He obtained one of the first three custom-made air ambulances delivered in the United States by the Beechcraft Company. Berry’s air ambulances flew over all 50 states, Canada and Mexico until the air ambulance service was discontinued in 1967.
In 1948, Berry Funeral home opened a new location at 3704 Chapman Highway. In 1951, founder Ralph L. Berry Sr. passed away. By 1957, Fred Berry Jr. and Eddie Berry had joined the business, representing the third generation of the Berry family to enter the funeral business. Fred Sr. passed away in 1976, Eddie Berry passed away in 1986, and Fred Berry Jr. passed away in 2003.
Fred Berry III entered the business in 1985 as a corporate officer and licensed funeral director and embalmer. His wife, Kelly Pack Berry, joined the funeral home and is the director of Aftercare and Community Support.
In 1987, Jeffrey B. Berry entered the business and, after college, was licensed as a funeral director and embalmer in 1994. Jeff has served as the location manager of Berry Funeral Home since 2001.
In 1992, Berry Funeral Home merged with an affiliate of Service Corporation International (SCI), and all staff and management remained. The merger enabled Berry to be part of a major network of funeral homes and cemeteries. Today, the Berry Family of funeral homes and cemeteries includes: Berry Lynnhurst Funeral Home and Lynnhurst Cemetery, Berry Highland Memorial Funeral Home and Cemetery, Berry Highland South Funeral Home and Cemetery, Berry Highland West Funeral Home and Cemetery, Weaver Funeral Home, Sherwood Chapel and Memorial Gardens and McCarty-Evergreen Funeral Home.
A tradition of honest, caring and professional service has been passed down through four generations of the Berry family. It is the foundation upon which we’ve formed our solid reputation.
We are proud to be a member of the Dignity Memorial® network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers. Dignity Memorial providers offer exclusive benefits, including National Transferability of Prearranged Services, the Bereavement Travel Program, the 24-Hour Compassion Helpline® and access to an acclaimed grief management library. As North America’s largest provider of funeral, cremation and cemetery services, the Dignity Memorial brand is your assurance of quality, value, caring service and exceptional customer satisfaction.