Margaret Berry, BA ’37, Life Member, Distinguished Alumna, passed away just after midnight on Sunday morning, taking a piece of UT history with her. She was 101.
“I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be,” Berry wrote in an Alcalde essay on the occasion of her centennial birthday on Aug. 8, 2015. “I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, for less gray hair.”
Berry was born in Dawson, Texas in 1915. For nearly 80 years, Berry was one of the university’s most stalwart supporters. She graduated from UT-Austin with with a bachelor’s degree in history, and went on to earn a master’s degree and doctorate in history from Columbia University. She was known as UT’s “unofficial historian,” documenting university lore in a number of books, including UT Austin: Traditions and Nostalgia. Others included The University of Texas: A Pictorial Account of Its First Century, Brick by Golden Brick: A History of University of Texas Campus Buildings, UT History 101: Highlights in the History of The University of Texas, and Scottish Rite Dormitory: A History: 1920-2007.
Berry held a number of administrative roles over the years at UT, the first of which was her position as the associate dean of women in 1962. She also founded the first telephone counseling service on the university campus, taught a UT class for student leaders titled “Self and the Campus Society” for 25 years, and at 80 years old, volunteered to teach a Freshman Seminar class from 1995-2002. Berry was named a recipient of the Texas Exes Distinguished Alumni Awards in 1996, and in 2005 was dubbed “Austin’s Most Worthy Citizen” by the Austin Board of Realtors. In 2012, former UT president Bill Powers dedicated the Student Activity Center’s atrium to Berry, officially naming it in her honor after nearly a year of lobbying efforts from students and alumni.
“Margaret Berry touched the lives of tens of thousands of people in the UT Austin community,” said UT-Austin President Gregory L. Fenves in a statement. “As a history graduate who become a beloved teacher, a dean who mentored hundreds of students, and later a university historian and adviser, she made the Forty Acres a better place. Our thoughts are with her family as we remember and celebrate her rich, accomplished life.”
Photo by Marsha Miller.
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