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FISH driver remembered

November 21, 2003

Deirdre Newman

Vic Berry didn't like to be the center of attention. He was more

comfortable lavishing his generous attention on others as a volunteer

driver for the "mobile meals" division of Friends in Service to

Humanity.

He had said he didn't want an organized memorial service before he

passed away recently of kidney failure at the age of 84, Rev. Bob

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Parry said.

But that didn't stop a small group of volunteer drivers from

gathering in his honor and celebrating his compassion and

contribution to the community. Thursday afternoon, they met at Ensign

View Park and shared their feelings about Berry. The park has a

stunning view of the harbor and as they spoke, the sun got brighter,

as if his spirit was shining down on them.

"He would hate this [gathering] because he hates being recognized

for the great guy he was," said Mark Jaques. "When I lost my Dad, he

filled the void as an uncle. I knew there was always a light at the

end of the rainbow."

Berry started volunteering for the service group a little more

than seven years ago after his wife passed away. He had already lost

his two children -- his son had died in a motorcycle accident and his

daughter had passed away from a blood disease.

Friends in Service to Humanity works in conjunction with Hoag

Hospital -- Hoag prepares the meals, and the group's volunteer

drivers pick them up and deliver them.

Diana Townsend referred to Berry as her "guardian angel" because

of Berry's actions after her son, Daniel, was in a violent car crash

in 1997 on Irvine Avenue. Berry lived nearby and called 911.

"He literally saved my boy's life," Townsend said.

Townsend's eyes started tearing up as she talked about Berry's

continued concern for her and her son after the accident.

"Every day, I picked up my meals, I would get hugs," Townsend

said. "He continued to nurture so much love and hopefulness in a

bleak time for me."

Berry inspired Joan Clamp to become a volunteer. He used to

deliver meals to Clamp's parents. When they died, Clamp began

volunteering. She now delivers meals with Eunetta Pickett, another

volunteer.

"That's why my friend and I are delivering food now," Clamp said.

"I wanted to give something back."

Berry won a few awards for his volunteer efforts, said Sal Torres,

program director for the mobile meals program. And Berry was so

committed to the program that in addition to delivering meals, he

would be at Hoag every weekday helping to get the meals ready.

"He had a great attitude and was willing to help others," Torres

said.

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