Iris Gillis Berry, Former First Lady of Berwick, Passes Away
Iris Gillis Berry, 93, born May 22, 1929, a native of Mendenhall, Mississippi and a lifelong resident of Berwick, Louisiana, passed away Monday, May 1, 2023 at her home.
Iris Gillis Berry was married to her high school sweetheart for 42 years, the late Mayor of Berwick, Everett S. Berry. She is survived by their three children: Belinda Kay Berry LaCoste of Carrollton, Texas; Ronald Everett Berry and his wife Mary Margaret Russo Berry of Morgan City, Louisiana; and Joe’al Stormont Berry and his wife Barbara Bell Berry of Patterson, Louisiana.
Iris was an avid Bible scholar, researching the scriptures, seeking answers to many unanswered questions. Her love for God has touched many lives, bringing souls into the Kingdom, one life at a time. In the late 1950’s, Iris helped grow the Berwick Baptist Mission into the First Baptist Church of Berwick, Louisiana. Over a span of sixty years, Iris taught in the many facets of several Baptist churches, primarily with youth and the young ladies of the Baptist G.A. (Girls Auxiliary) whom she fondly called “My Girls”. She also taught Kindergarten for Pastor Dr. Thomas De Laughter who became Professor at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
She took vital parts in her community, serving as Board Member for the St. Mary Genealogical and Historical Society, The Literacy Council, The Everett S. Berry Lighthouse Board, and two terms on the Louisiana State Archives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She served as Hospital Director of Fairview Hospital in Bayou Vista, Louisiana and as Councilwoman on the Berwick Town Council.
Iris was a remarkable lady and known to most as “Miss Iris”. She was an exceptional author and had been writing for many years, storing her work away until later discovered and encouraged to publish her stories into books. She spent a lot of time on her computer finishing the next book, while feeding the menagerie of stray cats that wandered in and took up residence.
She delighted in hosting family gatherings and visitors in for coffee or tea and had enjoyed decorating and displaying 100 plus unique Christmas trees with themes from around the world, inviting guests in to enjoy their beauty.
Her love for music began at a very young age. She studied opera with Lib Davis of New York and Professor Frank Slater of Jackson, Mississippi. She was thrilled to sing the Messiah under the noted Director Joe Santo.
Iris is also survived by her husband of 26 years, Stanley A. Dearhamer of Berwick, Louisiana; her grandchildren: Luke Everett LaCoste and James McKinley LaCoste of Carrollton, Texas; Jody Paul LaCoste and his wife Erin Kelly LaCoste of Montgomery, Texas; Chad Joseph LeBoeuf and his wife Sandra Mendes LeBoeuf of DeRidder, Louisiana; Joshua Charles King and his wife Brooke Beeson King of Humble, Texas; Brooke Anne Berry of Houma, Louisiana; Joseph Everett Berry and Ava Jane Berry of Patterson, Louisiana; thirteen great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren; her brother-in-law, Dr. Buford Eugene Berry of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and a host of nieces and nephews. Survivors also include the children of Carl and Nita Ivey with whom she considered extended family for over seventy years.
She was preceded in death by her first husband, Everett S. Berry; her parents, Charles Warner Gillis, Sr. and Zona Lee May Gillis; two infant brothers; one older brother, Charles Warner Gillis, Jr.; a son-in-law, Kurt LaCoste; her father-in-law, Buford Everett Berry; Buford’s second wife, Alleyne Coker Berry; a brother-in-law, Doyle Galloway Berry and his wife, Dawn Claire Wilson Berry. Also, preceding her was her sister-in-law, Johannah Wamble Berry; Everett S. Berry’s Mother, Kathryn Stormont Berry; and her dearest friend, Nita Ivey.
Funeral Services for Iris Gillis Berry will be held Saturday, May 6, 2023 at First Baptist Church, 1915 Victor II Boulevard, Morgan City, Louisiana. Visitation from 9:00 A.M. until 11:00 A.M. The Funeral Service begins at 11:00 A.M with Pastors Tracey Smith and Bert Langley officiating. Interment will follow at the Berwick Memorial Cemetery.
The Berry family would like to extend their deepest appreciation to her caregivers, who showed the utmost care and concern for their Mother.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Twin City Funeral Home, Morgan City, Louisiana.