Following a brief illness, Fire Chief Charles "Chuck" S. Berry, 62, passed away peacefully Jan. 3, 2013, surrounded by his loving family and close friends. He was born on Aug. 1, 1950, in Chicago, to Gilbert and Madeleine (Leonard) Berry Sr., now deceased As a child, he moved with his family to Indianapolis, where he lived until 1996. At that time, he and his beloved wife Paula (Thomasson) moved to Useppa Island, Fla., where they developed and became the fire department for the last 17 years.
He graduated from Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in 1968, then attended Northland College in Ashland, Wis. At some point, he developed a passion for public safety, specializing in fire service. In his early years, he was an EMT for AID Ambulance, then became a firefighter and paramedic for Washington Township.
Eventually, he became the first career fire chief for Pike Township. Because of him and his dedication, the Pike Township Fire Department has grown to be one of the finest in the country. He developed the department from 21 career and 40 volunteer firefighters to eventually having over 140 career firefighters. With his consistent pioneering ways, he always made sure that the citizens of Pike Township had the state-of-the-art equipment and the best professionally trained firefighters he could possibly hire. As the Pike Township fire chief, he was bigger than life and will be forever remembered for his never-ending unselfish contributions and passion for protecting the lives and property of others. With his tremendous work ethic, he was an excellent leader and a good example for all. The professionalism he portrayed was unsurpassed and admired by all who knew him.
Fire Chief Charles “Chuck” S. Berry
Upon his retirement from Pike Township, Chuck and his wife Paula took on the huge challenge and opportunity of building a fire department for Useppa Island. As a hard-working, dedicated and progressive team, they saved many lives and helped keep Useppa and many other nearby islands and waters safe. Although they were the entire fire department there, Chuck and Paula were much more to the people of the island-they were a part of all of their families.
While Chuck loved his job, he also loved being a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He would always say that his greatest accomplishment in life was his wonderful daughter, Andi Parker, whose mother is Gail Blainey.
Although he was on call 24 hours a day with his job, he also enjoyed fishing, reading, boating, motorcycles, sports cars, traveling and cruising to exotic places when he did get to enjoy some down time. It can be said that he lived life to the fullest, enjoying every minute whether working or playing.
He is survived by his loving wife, Paula; daughter Andrea (Jon) Parker; granddaughters, Madilyn and Morgan; sisters, Katie McKinney and Maddie (Greg) Linder; brother, Bob (Diane) Berry; many nieces, nephews, cousins, first wife Gail Queisser (Pete) Blainey and countless friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents and brother Gil (Celeste) Berry Jr.
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to the Riley Hospital Burn Unit, which was Chuck's longtime favorite charity.
Visitation was held Jan. 6 at Crown Hill Funeral Home, Indianapolis. The funeral was held Jan. 7 at Crown Hill Funeral Home.
Please feel free to leave messages at Chuck's CaringBridge site at www.caringbridge.org/visit/charleschuckberry.
Although Chuck Berry's final chapter was a short one, he did, indeed, handle it with dignity, resolve and strength, just as he handled everything else in his life. Our lives are richer for having known him as our "Chief."