Robert Vessey Berryhill

Posted: Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Longtime Juneau resident Robert Vessey Berryhill died March 31, 2009, at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau. He was 78.

Born in April 1930 in Montana, to Helen Vessey and Charles Porter Berryhill, he was raised in Anchorage, where his family moved in 1931.

One summer he kept a pet bear cub, which his father euthanized in the fall for protection. He attended University of Alaska School of Mines, where he studied more than eight years, while working to pay tuition.

He married Patricia McNavish while both were students. Upon their graduation, they moved to Douglas. He worked with the U.S. Bureau of Mines. There as a mining engineer, he investigated mineral deposits throughout Alaska. His most significant project was a prospect of beach sands over several seasons, wherein he and two others walked thousands of miles from Lituya Bay to Cold Bay to Dillingham. They carried all their gear on their backs and waded and swam across major rivers. The project culminated in a professional publication for the Bureau of Mines. His next job was for Keil and Peterman as a construction engineer on the Silvas Lake hydro project. After that, he returned to Juneau to join the U.S. Forest Service log road department, from which he retired in 1984.

After retirement, he employed himself in Tenakee Springs as an amateur fisherman and in Juneau as the family chauffeur.

He was preceded in death by his daughters, Margaret and Kay Berryhilll.

He is survived by his sister, Margaret Mettner, of New Zealand; wife, Patricia Berryhill; daughter, Carol Vandor; son, Bruce Berryhill and wife, Helle; and grandchildren, Kurt and Kathryn Vandor, and Ingrid and Iris Berryhill.

A family service will be held at a later date. Ashes will be spread over Tenakee Inlet. Memorials may be made to the Church of the Holy Trinity Building Fund, c/o Rev. George Silides, 416 Harris St. No. 205, Juneau, AK 99801. The family contact is Patricia Berryhill, 157 Behrends Ave., Juneau, AK 99801.

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