Brij Mohan Berry
November 12, 1929 – April 30, 2021
Brij Berry was one of those individuals you had to meet to believe. We had a friend once travel through Prince George and based on the stories we had told, he was curious about my father and wanted to meet him. After the customary introductions he was ushered into Brij’s office where he felt mildly threatened by the defensive squawking of an African grey parrot called Mickey, whom Brij was caring for while Mickey’s human family was travelling. Brij soothed the parrot by giving him half a digestive biscuit and talking to him gently. “I’m the only one he likes while his family is away,” Brij commented, “I stopped cutting my hair to resemble one of his species, in an effort to make him feel at home.” The friend reflected that indeed, Brij’s hair resembled that of a cockatoo. The bird did a small shuffle and clicked his tongue. My friend sat at the desk facing a wall full of books and after Brij had returned with the tea and cookies he sat is his chair, smiled and said “what would you like to discuss?”
This was because for the entirety of our family’s memory and experience of Brij was that at pretty much any time, and anyone could sit down with him and have a conversation, discussion, story and maybe even a lecture on practically any topic. It wasn’t just that Brij was educated. He had five degrees from four countries. He had travelled within every continent except Antarctica which he only regretted because he loved penguins, but thought it would be too cold. His recall of what he had read, observed, experienced and felt, his recall of his students, colleagues and parents was not only remarkable in itself, it refined his innate gift for storytelling, counselling and teaching.
Brij’s family would like to express their deepest gratitude to his friends and students in Prince George for caring, entertaining and feeding him and creating a community and a home for him. We also express our deepest admiration and respect for all health care workers and special thanks to those who tended to Brij in this last year of his wonderful, colourful and rewarding life.
Here is a link to the documentary “Mr. Berry” about his lifelong commitment to tea and teaching. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NxThtEv-RU
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Brij Mohan Berry
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May 13, 2021
I lived with Brij while teaching on a reserve. When I moved in he explained his lifestyle. "I do not wash dishes," he said. "I am teacher, not dish washer. I do not shovel snow. I am teacher not snow shoveler. "
He taught.me to love the profession we both shared. "Teaching is not working, teaching is joy." A bad day was when no student showed up. When he returned to Prince George on the weekend, he would come back bubbling with enthusiasm. "I taught from 7 am to 10 pm. What joy. What happiness!"
May 12, 2021
Mr Berry was an awesome teacher.He will be missed.
May 12, 2021
Mr berry and I spent many long nights together working through tough math questions while sipping tea and eating cookies. I spent about 2.5 years of high school working with him. I would’ve never made it through school without him and his patience. If you didn’t get something he’d show you another way and repeat it until it was drilled into your head. He made me look at math as an art even tho I despised it. His stories always blew my mind, and his humour was the icing on the cake. Thank you mr berry for everything you have taught me ❤️ May you Rest in Peace
May 12, 2021
Mr. Berry was an amazing teacher in as many ways as the profession can be described. Even thought he taught me and my five siblings mathematics for over six years, the greatest lesson he has ever passed down to us was kindness and compassion.
Raised by a single mom, our family struggled to make ends meet in Prince George. Mr. Berry was our saviour, and provided us with a home to live in rent-free for many months before my mom was finally able to save up enough money to cover our living expenses. Without Mr. Berry, we would have ended up on the streets. We will never forget the kindness and grace Mr. Berry showed us during this time. His spirit and memory will live on as we choose to live our lives by his example. Rest in peace Mr. Berry, we’ll be having tea and cookies tonight in your name!
May 11, 2021
Brij would be a substitute teacher in my family studies classes. It was very easy to prepare for this wonderful substitute teacher; I would give him the unit we were working on and he would go into our class and share his life stories related to the topic. The students were so interested and would always look forward to his classroom visits. Going from Hart Highlands to College Heights Secondary School was a great distance because Brij did not drive. I sometimes drove to his home to pick him up! I send to Brij’s family and friends sincere condolences. Brij was a great human: kind, interesting, knowledgeable, friendly, warm and fascinating.
May 11, 2021
Mr. Berry was a amazing caring person. He was a tutor to my son and daughter. He had a incredible way of teaching the kids. They had to going to get help but they loved listening to his stories and spending time with him. He will be missed dearly.
May 10, 2021
Rest In Peace Mr. Berry. I will never forget the life lessons you taught me during the toughest times of my teenage years. I spoke of you often through my adult life. The only teacher that made algebra make sense. Thank you for the knowledge, the stories, and the cookies ❤️
May 10, 2021
When I was a kid, I lived down the road from Mr. Berry's. Seeing him on walks always peaked the imagination about who he was and what he did. Was he just a friendly neighbourhood grandpa? Was he an artist? Was he a mad scientist? It wasn't until many years later, in 2019, that I finally met Mr. Berry. Picking up my girlfriend's sister from a tutoring session and watching the lesson from the back of his office, I realized he was everything I imagined him being and more. I was in the room with the most interesting person in the world and I needed to know more about him.
That summer, with a team of filmmakers, we pitched him on making a documentary about his life. He was keen on the idea and we got straight to work. We spent a good part of the summer meeting up with him regularly, conducting interviews and filming sequences. He was a joy to work with and always brought the goods. I learned so much about his life, and the effect he had on the communities he worked in. His passion for teaching left an undeniably emotional impact on so many of his students. I was brought to tears many times in the making of the film, hearing from his students and hearing from Mr. Berry himself about what he went through in his own young life. Making the film was such a rewarding creative experience for me, that I knew I would be forever grateful for his time and energy in the making of that project.
What I didn't expect was how fond I was becoming of the relationship we were developing. I had made a good friend. I continued to visit Mr. Berry as much as I could, always meeting for tea and food. We would talk about the world, politics, science and relationships. Nothing was off limits. He gave great advice about my own life that I will cherish forever. The last time I saw Mr. Berry was a few weeks before he passed. He was as sharp, joyful, generous and engaging as ever. I will miss that magical man.
May 10, 2021
Mr. Berry was a truly unique individual. He was always so kind and sensitive. I remember he tutored me at his house and I wasn’t allowed to leave until I got 100% on my work. He knew you had it you before you even knew. He was a wonderful man and always willing to lend you a dollar for the vending machine. Not sure how he remembered who all owed him, but he did because if you hadn’t paid him back and came back for more, he knew and wouldn’t lend you any more until you paid back the first dollar.
What a unique life and a truly unique man. He and all if his knowledge will be truly missed.
May 9, 2021
Mr. Berry was a very kind and compassionate human being. He let us redo our math tests until we got 100%. Most thought that was absurd but we sure did learn a lot about math and life from him.
May 9, 2021
Mr. Berry was a wonderful man. When I first met him my son needed a tutor, so we sat in his office, and he brought cookies and tea. My five-year-old kept sneaking cookies and I was quietly trying to stop her. Mr Berry said in a nice calm quiet voice "let her eat cookies" "she's fine" . So my son was tutored by his friend Judy for 4 years. When he went into grade 7 he had the opportunity for Mr. Berry to finally tutor him, Until covid hit. He will be very missed and we feel very thankful to be have been a small part of his life ❤️❤️❤️
May 9, 2021
Mr. Berry was truly a wonderful person and teacher. My children had the opportunity to be schooled/ tutored by him and there was always a very warm welcome, tea and biscuits. I’m very sad to hear about the loss of this man but I know his teaching will never stop wherever he is. RIP Mr. Berry love your friends and fellow students Bernadette, Jared and Kendra Kipping
May 8, 2021
Oh, my thoughtful, kind, soft spoken friend. We had many years chatting as you rode my Bus , to and from town. I always took you to your home, because I was so afraid you would slip on the ice in the winter. The next trip you took, you always gave me a box of digestive cookies. The whole box, lol. I would tell you, I do not need this. You would say, I must bring you something, we cannot have a one way relationship. My goodness, that made me laugh. I loved our long talks. I looked forward to our rides together. I miss you in those moments in time that were ours because your peaceful presents stayed with me for the rest of the day and every time I thought about all the subjects we touched on. Rest in Peace Sweet man.
May 7, 2021
Mr. Berry was a wonderful man with the biggest heart. He loved each and everyone of his students and considered them all his own children. He always told me the most interesting stories and this man lived a crazy, very fascinating life, but teaching was his favourite and the thing that kept him going. I will never forget the countless hours I spent with him doing math and all the peppermint tea and hickory sticks he would specially get for me, may he rest in peace💗
May 7, 2021
It was an honour and privilege getting to know Brij. I had met Brij prior to his tutoring. My daughter Laura was tutored by Brij over a four and half year period. He had an endearing nature with his students calling them dear., sweetie. Laura called to speak to him April 29, 2021. So it is with sadness that we learned of his passing April 30. Brij not only taught math but life lessons. Laura gained confidence in herself, problem solving beyond mathematic, calculus. Life lessons. I would stay during her tutoring and do my office work. Brij always wanted to serve tea and cookies or chips. Brij told us tea is the only thing he could make and took great pride in serving his guests. Brij told us a humourous story how he learned to make tea. He was living in Edmonton, room and board. The owners were gone for a day. Brij thought he would make himself a cup of tea. He put the kettle on the burner on the stove. Soon the smell of burning rubber filled the air. Brij said how he put the electric kettle on the stove top. He quickly went out and to his surprise found the exact same kettle which he promptly bought. He then splashed it with water to make it look more used. Brij told us stories of his childhood, his education. I always looked forward to Laura's tutoring sessions as I enjoyed our conversations. We will always cherish the time we spent with him learning pearls of wisdom from a wise man.
We send our love to his Family and Judy.
Love Marian Roesch, Laura Buchanan and family