Margaret….. Margaret Catherine Berry…. was
born in DAWSON, TEXAS….
Her parents were Winfred Berry and Lillian Lavinia
Winfred was born at
Spring Hill, Texas in 1880, one year before the town of
Dawson was created. He grew up in ”The House on Rabbit Hill,” located on his father’s farm just west of the community of Dawson on the
Old Waco Hiway.
After completing Dawson High School, Winfred
attended North Texas State Normal in Denton and received a teaching certificate in 1906. His teaching career was, however, short lived,
and, by 1907, he had been appointed rural mail carrier for the Blackland farm area south of Dawson. His parents were Moses Lafford Berry
1857-1934…and..Maude Margaret Houston 1859-1938, both from families who had settled early in Western Navarro Co.
Lillian Lavinia McClunney was born 1887 at Woodland MS, daughter of William Allan McClunney born 1850 at Pontotoc Co MS, and
grand daughter of James Wesley McClunney..born 1823.. in SC. The McCluney Family had migrated from Ireland had lived for some time in
Bedford Co VA. Lillian, one of five McClunney daughters who lived at Kerens, Texas and were school teachers, was teacher at the small rural
school called…”Harmony,” located on the mail route served by Winifred.
The two were married at Kerens, Texas…September 1914
and moved into a residence which is still standing at Highway 31 and Smith Street. It was here that Dr Margaret Catherine Berry was born.
Later, the Berry Family lived briefly in a residence on the Old Waco Highway just east and across a small branch
from The House on Rabbit Hill. The next move was to a farm Winfred purchased and was located five miles northwest of Dawson.
When Margaret reached school age, it was time to move back to town. Winfred purchased The Cannon House on Smith Street,
just across the street and west from The Dawson School. The house had been constructed on one of the Dawson Farm Lots, twice the width of
normal town lots and the depth extended to the west Cemetery Street.
Winfred constructed one of the finest barns in Dawson where he kept the horses he rode to carry the mail when his Model
T Ford could not be used on the muddy Blackland roads. He came to
know those road well, and, it was he, who went to Austin again and again to lobby the state legislature to fund desperately needed farm to market
roads in Western Navarro Co.
The Berrys continued to live on Smith Street until
1940 when Winfred and Lillian purchased the beautiful two story residence on Fullerton Street which his father had built in the late
1920s. His parents were then deceased and the purchase was made from the estate. This was home until 1963 when Winfred and Lillian joined
Margaret in a new residence in Austin.
Winfred Berry continued to carry the mail for
thirty-nine years and relinquished his route only when Neil Clark returned home from WWII and became qualified for the job. He, also,
enjoyed serving on the Board at the Methodist Church, on the City
Council, and, for many years, on the Board of Navarro Junior College.
He was an active member of The Lions Club. His wife, Lillian, was,
also, active in the Methodist Church, a leader in the Garden and Study
Clubs of Dawson, and served as judge for many flower shows.
Catherine Berry began first grade at Dawson in 1922.
Margaret loved school and excelled in her
studies. Ralph Glenn Akers, son of Houston and Mable Skinner Akers,
who, also lived on Smith Street…just two houses north…began school that
year. He and Margaret began a life long friendship and were constant
companions throughout their school years at Dawson. Both were
excellent students and when grades were tabulated to determine the
Valedictorian of Dawson High School for the year 1933…it was a tie
between the two.
Berry and Ralph Glenn Akers became Co-Valedictorians.
That fall their lives began journeys in separate
directions. Margaret enrolled at The University of Texas in
Austin…..Ralph at Baylor University in Waco.
Margaret, after graduating from the University of
Texas (with honors) in 1937, busied herself teaching history… first at
El Campo, Texas, then, in 1941..Freeport, Texas.
Ralph worked briefly as an assistant to the
president of a college in Brownsville, Texas, but was soon hired by
Shell Oil Company and moved to Louisiana. He married after WWII, had
two children, and, upon his retirement from Shell, moved to Longview,
Texas. He died there in 2003, preceded in death by his wife and both
World War II came, and Ralph served as an officer
at The War College in Washington, DC for most of the war.
Margaret, meanwhile, was teaching history at Ball
High School in Galveston 1942-1947. Margaret did not marry.
Margaret spent summers completing courses for an
advanced degree and it was in 1943 when Margaret received a Masters
Degree in History from Columbia University in New York City….with
During the summer of 1944….she worked for NEWSWEEK
magazine in New York City. And….she almost stayed.
Ever seeking to expand her academic horizons,
Margaret spent six weeks of the summer of 1945 engaged in a HUMAN
RELATIONS WORKSHOP at the University of Denver, Colorado.
Ray Waller came to Dawson in the late 1920s as
football coach and teacher at the school. He, later, became High
School Principal. He moved away in the early 1930s, but returned in
the 1940s as superintendent of the Dawson School. After WWII, Ray
Waller was named President of a new school in Corsicana, Texas…..the
Navarro County Junior College.
When Ray Waller began to assemble the initial
administration and faculty of the new school he, immediately, thought of
one of his most gifted students at Dawson. Margaret came to
Corsicana in 1947 to help lay the academic foundation for that now
outstanding institution.. She was named Assistant Dean-Registrar and
Instructor in History. She would remain there for three years.
East Texas State Teachers College needed a Dean of
Women in 1950 and Margaret moved to Commerce, Texas. She, also, served
as Professor of History. She would remain there for twelve years.
She did, however, take a leave of absence in 1961
and 1962 to do graduate work, one year at Columbia University, and,
another year at the University of Texas at Austin collecting data for
her doctoral studies.
The University of Texas at Austin beckoned and, in
1962, she was named Assistant Dean of Women at one of the most
prestigious schools in America. Later, she would be named Associate Dean
of Women, Assistant Dean of Students, and Associate Dean of Student.
Her final role was to serve in The Office of Vice President for Student
Affairs. Her roles included scores of special assignments….the
creation of many innovative programs and organizations... most…carefully
focused to meet student needs at the school.
One of the most outstanding was a course designed
to prepare students for leadership positions on campus….and…in later
Margaret “retired” in 1980, but…she was never
She began….1995…teaching a Freshman Seminar…
”HIGHLIGHTS in the HISTORY of The
University of Texas.”
This effort would continue until the year 2002 when
she decided she was sufficiently old to actively retire. She
directed that her salary be channeled to a new program of Religious
Studies… in memory of her parents. The program is now a major at The
University of Texas
Twenty-four pages of her twenty-eight page
Biographic Summary, prepared in 2004, are filled with honors bestowed
upon Dr Margaret Berry and of her association with so many worthy
organizations both state and national. The following are but a
fraction of those listed….
DISTINGUISHED ALUMNUS AWARD
University of Texas
Austin Board of Realtors
C BERRY AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE
An endowment in her name
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD
Texas University Parent Association
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD
National Association for Women in Education
Margaret is a published author. She had written
nine books, four of which are about….what else…The University of
Texas. She is, presently, writing her tenth book. and has written
volumes of periodicals on a variety of subjects.
She continues to be active. Margaret speaks on a
variety of subjects; is active in her church; presents book reviews to
professional-student-civic groups; delivers commencement addresses; and
participates in TV and radio presentations.
good.” Says Dr Margaret Berry
busy. Always have something to do when you get up in the morning.”