James C. Berry was the epitome of the American Dream. He was born to humble means in a small town in Mississippi. Through his tremendous work ethic, intelligence, perseverance, honesty and integrity he created many thriving businesses, employed thousands and improved the lives of those with whom he came in contact.
One of his many major accomplishments was the creation of Republic Parking System, Inc. Many people may not realize that Republic is the largest privately held parking management firm in the country, if not world, and is headquartered here in Chattanooga. Mr. Berry could have located his companies anywhere but he cared deeply for this town and this community.
Jim loved to work but loved his family most of all. His wife, five children and many grandchildren were the center of his attention. He was a private man that truly enjoyed the outdoors and nature.
He and the Berry family have always been very generous. Much in the line with Matthew 6:3, the Berry family gives back to our community by donating money, time and resources to several local charities and organizations, often anonymously. They give and never expected anything in return.
I am fortunate and blessed to have known Jim. He was an employer, a mentor and a partner. Please keep the Berry family in your thoughts and prayers for they - and Chattanooga - have lost a great man.
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I was honored to know Jim Berry for many years. My parents live across the street from Mr. Berry. It was on a Christmas Eve 10 years ago with my father facing yet another heart surgery a knock came to my parent's back door. It was Mr. Berry with his son Marshall and his son-in-law Eric. They told my father that they had something that they wanted to give him. We walked outside to find a new Kawasaki Mule, as my father’s eyes welled up with tears he told Mr. Berry that he couldn't accept such a gift. Mr. Berry told us that he wanted him to have the Mule so he could ride our farm. Mr. Berry knew that our old four wheeler had given out and in his compromised health, my father could not walk the farm. My father told me that if something happened and he did not make it through his surgery to make sure that Jim got the Mule back. God blessed us and my father did make it through and we had him five more years.
This summer my youngest son and I were riding the Mule in our field when we spotted Mr. Berry feeding his fish in his pond on his property that joined ours. We stopped and talked to Mr. Berry for a while and I thanked him again for the Mule that gave my father so much enjoyment to be able to ride the property. Mr. Berry told me, “I get credit for a lot of things, it was Marshall who came up with the idea of getting the Mule for your father.” That is the kind of man Jim was, giving, caring and humble.
I pray for his family during this difficult time. But I know that he set an example for his loved ones and others that he touched to follow. A man who worked hard, gave back and cared for others. Thank you, Jim, for a life well lived.
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Jim Berry was a citizen that will be tremendously missed by our community in many ways. His visits to the Courthouse and particularly to the Clerk's office were very special.
His warm personality and friendly smile were attributes that will always be remembered.
County Clerk Bill Knowles