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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

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Harold (Bill) Berry (1902–1975)

by John Richards

An informal gathering in memory of the late Harold (Bill) Berry will be held in the Seminar Room, Research School of Earth Sciences, at 5.30 pm, Friday 17 October. His friends are invited to come and listen to some of the music he helped perform.

Harold (Bill) Berry, born in 1902 was one of the early members of the rock-dating group in the then Department of Radio chemistry, RSPhysS, which, through its later incorporation in the Department of Geophysics, contributed to the present structure of the Research School of Earth Sciences.

After experience in coal research in Britain, South Africa and the CSIRO in Sydney, he came to Canberra in late 1954 to set up the analytical laboratory in the new department. His initial research interests included lead-alpha dating of zircons, but gradually the art of sample preparation and mineral separation came to predominate, culminating in a period of five years after his retirement at the end of 1967, during which he continued as Research Officer involved with the delicate task of separating small components of the precious moon rocks.

Bill Berry's biggest impact on the life of Canberra came through his great love for the violin, which he played with considerable skill. The Canberra Symphony Orchestra, especially in its earlier formative years, owed much to his enthusiasm and drive as a committee member. He was frequently a member of the orchestra in productions of the Canberra Philharmonic Society, the Canberra Choral Society, and other such groups which need accompaniment from time to time.

On the campus, he was a foundation member of the small instrumental group established by George Dreyfus in his years as Fine Arts Fellow. When this Boccherini Orchestra dissolved, Bill Berry helped found the Amateur Sinfonia of Canberra, which met weekly on campus for some years, and continues to give enjoyment to its member players. He also played regularly in home chamber groups. After his second retirement in 1971, he found yet another full-time occupation in the repair and restoration of stringed instruments.

His dogs (Boxers), which were his constant companions, led him to participate in many dog shows around the country and he helped in the formation, in 1961, of the Canberra Boxer Club.

He is survived by his wife, two daughters and seven grandchildren, with whom his many friends join in affectionate remembrance.

Original publication

Citation details

John Richards, 'Berry, Harold (Bill) (1902–1975)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 May 2024.

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