Peter Alden Berry
Plainfield, N.H. — Longtime volunteer Plainfield fireman and 20-year chief died peacefully Friday morning, Feb. 21, 2014, after a lengthy illness. Peter Alden Berry, 70, was a devoted and loving husband to his wife of 43 years, Arlene (Dessert), a wonderful son, incredible brother to his sisters, as well as a loving father to his three children and grandchildren.
He was born in Lebanon, July 9, 1943, attended schools in Lebanon and Windsor, graduating from WHS in 1961. He learned to ski at Storrs Hill and jumped off both ski jumps there before joining the ski team at WHS, and later ski jumping off the big Brattleboro jump.
As a teenager he joined 56,000 other Boy Scouts celebrating the 50th Golden Anniversary Jamboree of scouting in America in Colorado. Later he attend a jamboree at the Scout ranch in Philmont, N.M. As an adult he assisted his wife with her Cub Scout den.
After graduation he worked with his father and uncles at Suburban Natural Gas, a business his late grandfather, Ernest Berry, created. Later, he worked at K-ross in Lebanon, retiring from there 37 years after many traveling adventures delivering steel up and down the East Coast and as far west as Chicago, and as a crane operator.
His love of traveling lasted a lifetime and included visiting 40 out of 50 states and parts of Canada. Along with his love for his family, the fire department, and traveling, he loved trains, but that is another story. He also served for a time as a deputy policeman.
His dedication to the Plainfield Fire Department from 1958 until his health prevented him from participating, was immeasurable. He was a young chief at the time of the winter fire at The Oaks where he had worked over the summers for years for Maxfield Parrish. Peter was chief for 20 years from 1979-1999, contining his education towards a fire science degree. He served as a Forest Fire Warden for over 30 years. He was president of the N.H. Federation of Forest Fire Wardens from 1990-1992 and president of the Grafton-Sullivan County Forest Fire Wardens Association for 20 year who awarded him life-time membership.
For over 10 years he chaired the town’s annual 4th of July parade and the department’s fund raising bar-b-que following the parade. His fundraising included many years of calling bingo numbers on Saturday nights, organizing raffles and much more. He was the first chief to organize and hold certification classes for Plainfield, Meriden, and W. Lebanon firefighters. For years he was involved in researching, traveling to check, and purchasing trucks and equipment for a growing department including truck #1 which is still in service.
He loved the Plainfield community, dedicating endless hours of work, knowledge and firefighting experience to it. His passing will leave some big shoes to fill within the brotherhood of the town, area, and state firefighting communities, and will be missed by the many friends he made over the years of service.
He was predeceased by his parents, Alden and Georgia (Day) Berry. He is survived by his wife, Arlene; his daughter, Sarah Witty of Cornish; and his sons, Christopher of Plainfield and Jeffrey and wife, Laura of Claremont. He was an “awesome Grandpa” to his three grandchildren, Ashley and Evelyn Berry and Nicholas Witty of Cornish. He leaves his beloved sisters, Bonnie Good (George) of Ranchester, Wyo., Carol Daigle (James) of Colchester, Vt., and Deborah Maville (Bruce) of Lebanon. He will be missed by his in-laws, Rene and Marion Dessert, Mary Decere, and David and Susan Dessert as well as his numerous cousins, nieces and nephews as the leader-of-the-clan.
A memorial and committal service will be held in the spring at the Plainfield Fire Department. Arrangements have been made with the Cremation Society of N.H. In lieu of flowers donations can be made in his memory to the Plainfield Fire Department, PO Box 212, Plainfield 03781.