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Collection 325 Oral History Interview with Donald W. Berry

 Collection
Identifier: CN 325
Oral history interview in which Berry discusses his conversion, education at Wheaton College, and his work as a pilot and administrator for Mission Aviation Fellowship in Honduras and Southeast Asia. Other topics discussed include. Berry’s service in the Army during World War II, his views on pacifism, the origins of Mission Aviation Fellowship, challenges of MAF, and the effect of life on the mission field on Berry’s family.

Donald Berry was interviewed by Robert Shuster on February 14, 1986 at the BGC Archives at Wheaton College.

Dates

  • Created: 1986

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Extent

2.00 Audio Tapes

107 Minutes

Biographical Information

Donald Wesley Berry was born on December 13, 1921 in Colorado, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Berry. He was converted in the eighth grade while attending an Assemblies of God church. Berry attended one year of state teacher's college in Greeley, CO, then transferred to Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL for one semester before being called into the Army Air Corp. Just before going on active service he married Phyllis Lucille Caradine in 1943, also a Wheaton student. Berry was in training throughout the rest of World War II and was discharged in November 1945, after completing his fighter pilot instruction . Several of the fellow Christians he met in the Air Corp formed Christian Airmen's Missionary Fellowship at this time and the Berrys were early members. In 1946 he and Phyllis re-enrolled in Wheaton (bringing with them their two children Kathleen Helen and Donald William). They both graduated in 1948, he with a combined degree in Physical Education and Christian Education, she with one in Anthropology. After Don had completed taking some courses at Moody Bible Institute (which he completed in August 1949) and helping to start that school's missionary aviation course, the Berrys moved to California in the later part of the year, where Don took airplane maintenance courses. He and Phyllis had been in constant touch with Mission Aviation Fellowship (as the Christian Airmen's Fellowship came to be known; later the name was changed to Mission Aviation Fellowship) and had been regular contributors to the work. They had moved to California to be near the MAF headquarters (at that time in Los Angeles) so that they would be ready when the Fellowship needed them. In 1950 Donald and Phyllis joined the MAF full-time and went to Mexico for Spanish language study and temporary assignment. The Berrys moved to Honduras in early 1952 and Donald began providing air service for the Central America Mission and thirteen other missions in the area, such as the Moravians. His duties included maintaining contacts with the Honduran government and securing its approval for MAF's flights, the creation and maintenance of needed air strips (with the help of local congregations and missionaries), maintaining the aircraft, and, of course, flying. He would fly missionaries and supplies to remote mission stations, transport people to hospitals in medical emergencies, and similar tasks. By 1961 MAF was using 150 airstrips in the country and there were two other families working with the Berrys. Don was also in 1959 instrumental in introducing missionary dentists to many areas. The family moved to the Philippines in 1962, after a year furlough in the United States. Don became director of Pacific operations and helped establish MAF facilities in the Philippines (on the islands of Luzon and Mindoro), New Guinea and Laos. The Berrys moved to the Fullerton, CA headquarters of MAF in 1966. By this time the family included four more children: Lauri Margaret, Jack Edman, Joseph Lawrence and Margery Elizabeth. Don was named director of overseas operations in 1968 and in 1970 vice-president in charge of personnel. He eventually retired from this position (after a heart attack in 1984) but continued on the staff as a counselor for MAF workers who were moving to different fields or were on furlough. In 1985, Don and Phyllis retired from MAF, but continued to assist other mission organizations. Don died August 15, 1994.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives in February 1986 by Donald Berry.

Accession 86-13

July 12, 1993

Robert Shuster
Title
Collection 325 Oral History Interview with Donald W. Berry
Author
Bob Shuster
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Billy Graham Center Archives Repository

Contact:
501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US
630-752-5910