On October 26, 2019, Howard Leland Berry, beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, and friend, left this earthly life to return to his spiritual home. Howard was born in Los Angeles on December 8, 1931, into a loving family that was deeply-rooted in their Finnish community.
Throughout the years, Howard shared wonderful stories about growing up in their small, multi-cultural neighborhood in El Monte. As much of the area was still undeveloped, Nature figured prominently in the lessons of childhood. For the remainder of his life, Howard felt a deep connection to the beauty and history of all Southern California. Howard was gifted with intuitive understanding of all things mechanical. As a member of the burgeoning hot rod culture of the 1940s, he developed his automotive skills and knowledge into mastery.
In 1952, Howard met Lorraine Burrey and was instantly smitten. Less than six months later he was drafted into the Army. Just days before reporting for duty, Howard drove his betrothed through the starry desert night to wed at the Little Chapel Around the Corner in Las Vegas.
Before long, they welcomed three children - Cathy, Lee, and Cindy - and settled into young family life. In 1965, Howard discovered Solvang, the pristine little town set in the extraordinary Santa Ynez Valley. Enamored of the Valley's unique culture, the Berrys moved into their home on First Street in Alisal Glen, where Howard and Lorraine would live for 53 years. Howard frequently volunteered for community projects and events, and especially enjoyed the camaraderie of his neighbors.
Howard worked for C. Sanchez and Sons as a heavy-duty mechanic for more than 35 years. He found fulfillment in the physicality of the work and in tending to the demands of the massive Caterpillar equipment. Job sites often took him to pristine fields, hillsides, cliffs, and seashores, and as he worked, he reveled in the surrounding beauty.
Upon retirement, Howard and Lorraine devoted much time to their grandchildren; they traveled, developed talents in photography and art, and expanded their circle of friends. Howard's refined, artistic sensibility informed everything he did, whether building an engine or remodeling the family home, when planting a garden or planning a photo project. A humble man, Howard found his heart's content through the love of his family and lifelong friendships.
Howard is survived by his wife Lorraine, with whom he shared a honeymoon of 67 years, his sister, Alyce Pernu, his children, Cathy Berry, Lee (Patty) Berry, Cindy Berry, grandchildren Keith Grant (Audrey Koestler), James (Melissa) Berry, and great-granddaughters, Caroline and Josephine Berry. Howard and Lorraine are pictured together, as we can't tell the story of one without the other.
Howard Leland Berry was an every-day hero who gave of his whole self in everything he did. He was a man of strength and grace, deep compassion and an electric wit. We will always cherish our time with him, even as we mourn his absence.
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