Cancel OK

Obituary: Loren Montgomery Berry

General News

Loren Montgomery Berry was born at White’s Hospital in Los Angeles, September 4, 1921. He was the third child of Merrill and Faith Montgomery-Berry. He spent his first six years on the streets of the village Los Angeles. He was an energetic, mechanically gifted, youngster who gave his parents fits trying to keep him safe. All four Berry children spent time with their grandparents, James and Clara Berry, who owned the Richelieu Hotel. Many photos survive of Judd, Beth, Loren and Orvan Berry, including some where they wore outfits made by Clara.


In 1927, the entire family moved to Cazadero to manage the Montgomery Ranch and Cazadero Water Co. Loren helped Merrill to dig a well by hand for more water since Cazadero was always short. Loren spent more than 80 years managing the water system. All four Berry Children attended Kidd Creek School #2 and a highpoint was visiting the USS Constitution on exhibit on the San Francisco wharf. The four children had to walk three miles each way, rain or shine. Loren attended Analy High School in 1935 in his freshman year. He defeated Analy’s fastest sprinter while running barefoot.

The next year the family moved to Oakland, where the kids could have a much less challenging school commute. Loren graduated from Castlemont High School in 1939 and ran the 440 yard race for the track team as fast as 52 seconds. Following graduation, he immediately went to work for his father in Cazadero: logging, hauling logs to Sturgeon’s mill, milking the family cow, building fence and making water co. repairs. In 1938, he met and fell in love with Beatrice Beth Harrison at the Home of Peace in Oakland . The Home of Peace has been a Montgomery-Berry missionary support institution since 1893.

In 1941, Loren and Merrill founded Berry’s Sawmill in downtown Cazadero. After the Pearl Harbor attack, the Selective Service kept calling and Merrill convinced them Loren was already vital to the war effort, but in 1944 the draft said basically that if he was so valuable, we have to have him for sawmill construction around the world. Loren served as a sawmill expert in the Forestry Division of the Corp. of Engineers in both the European and Pacific Theatres, including providing lumber to construct a pontoon bridge across the Rhine River at the famous Remagen crossing as described in his World War II memoirs. This crossing shortened the war by several months and saved many Allied lives.

After many World War II “survival and love” letters, Loren proposed to Beatrice Beth Harrison at a spot overlooking Cazadero and they were married in Corning, New York, which was her home church. Loren and Bea and Judd Berry restarted a deserted Cazadero Community Church just after the war. Four children were born to them between 1947 and 1952. Following World War II, Loren put his expertise into making the mill profitable and as a result was able to support many Christian causes, such as the Home of Peace (homeofpeaceofoakland2) and Alliance Redwoods Campground and many missionaries. In 1974, Loren received his Licensed Professional Forester’s license and with son Jim, wrote 80 Timber Harvest Plans over a 40 year time. In 1980, Loren and ten of his crew moved Berry’s Sawmill to a larger and cooler spot and it operated there for 36 years. Bruce and Maureen Berry were involved in the mill operation with him for more than 40 years. He continued to work there into his 90s. Also in his 90s, he liked to run his Caterpillar tractor building roads for timber harvest. He was able to stay at home with his family and care givers nearby until the last.

He was a devoted son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He is survived by his beloved wife Beatrice, three sons, Jim (Joyce), Don (Charlotte) and Bruce (Karin) and Carol Berry-Hurwitz, granddaughter Kaity Berry, grandsons Eli and Max Hurwitz, Neil Soter and great-grandson Daiki Soter. HIs funeral will be held at Pleasant Hills Chapel at 1700 Pleasant Hills Dr. in Sebastopol on Thursday, October3, 2019 at 2 p.m. A celebration of Life will be held during October in Cazadero.

Source: The Press Democrat