Lawmaker, Attorney Berry Dead at 65

Moundsville attorney Rod Berry – a former state lawmaker who worked in recent years as a lobbyist – died Sunday following a lengthy illness, and friends and colleagues say his death means “a loss to the whole community.”

Berry, 65, was senior partner at the Berry, Kessler, Crutchfield, Taylor and Gordon law office in Moundsville. He served two terms in House of Delegates from 1987-91, and held the position of vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

In 2010, Berry ran unsuccessfully for a Marshall County commission seat.

The West Virginia Ethics Commission lists him as a registered lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia, the Family Court Association and the United School Service Employees Association.

Marshall County Clerk Jan Pest said she knew Berry for 35 years and campaigned for him during his runs for office.

“He was a great guy, a great lawyer and a great friend,” Pest said. “He was also a family man – his family was very important to him. This is a loss to the whole community.”

Berry graduated from Union High School in Benwood in 1966, and from the former West Liberty State College in 1970. He obtained his law degree from West Virginia University in 1973.

In his early career, Berry was hired as an assistant prosecutor in Marshall County. He later served as a mentor to other attorneys just entering the profession.

One of them was current West Liberty University President Robin Capehart.

“He was so helpful when I was a young attorney in Moundsville,” Capehart said. “He was an assistant in the prosecutor’s office at the time, and he was only out of law school a few years longer than me.

“Anytime he saw you he would smile – he seemed genuinely glad to see you. This is a loss for the community, and he will be missed by many,” Capehart added.

Moundsville attorney Thomas White said he started practicing law in Marshall County just three years after Berry began, and they often associated together. He termed Berry “very sociable,” and added that is likely why he was elected to the Legislature.

“Rod’s forte as an attorney was as a negotiator, knowing the nuances and knowing how to deal with folks,” White continued. “He had a lot of fun during life and enjoyed it.

“He was well-liked and had pretty good skills,” he continued. “He wouldn’t hesitate to do anything. There wasn’t a nervous bone in his body. He was easy going. He could do anything without worrying about it – whether it was a small or big case, or just intermingling with a group.”