Longtime Punahou educator, writer was ‘ahead of his time’
By Gary T. Kubota / firstname.lastname@example.org
When he wasn’t teaching at Punahou School, Warren Paul “Doc” Berry wrote books about nature and environmental sustainability, served as an editor on independent projects and worked with directors and major institutions to produce films about Hawaii.
“He taught me about collaboration … how to be generous and graceful,” said award-winning filmmaker Edgy Lee.
“Doc showed me how to make it work when you’re working with others on a creative basis. He was such a great influence on so many people.”
With his daughter, Nina, at his side, Berry died from complications due to Parkinson’s disease at his home in Kaneohe on March 15. He was 79.
Born in Lincoln, Neb., Berry received a master’s degree in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and taught at Punahou from 1962 to 1996.
In the late 1980s Berry worked with two other Punahou officials to start a senior course that combined the study of economics with volunteering at nonprofits on Oahu. The economics program continues today, with seniors volunteering at more than 40 nonprofits.
Outside of Punahou, Berry wrote several books, including “In the Wake of Dreams: Reflections of Hawaii,” a portrait of Hawaii’s endangered natural environment.
He co-wrote the award-winning documentary “Paniolo o Hawaii: Cowboys of the Far West,” with Lee serving as director and producer.
Also, Berry and Lee co-wrote the documentary “Waikiki: In the Wake of Dreams.” In addition, Berry was one of the writers of the documentary “Life or Meth: Hawaii’s Youth and Ice.”
Berry was the producer of “Your Body, Your Mind,” a 96-part TV series for KHET/
PBS, in conjunction with the Hawaii Medical and Hawaii Medical Service associations.
At the University of Hawaii’s East-West Center, Berry co-wrote China’s first textbook on globalization, said co-author, Dean Neubauer, a former consultant for the global think tank Rand Corp.
“He ended up being one of my closest friends and golf partners,” said Neubauer, a retired UH vice chancellor for academic affairs.
“He knew how to write.”
William M. Tam, a deputy director of the state Land and Natural Resources Department in the Abercrombie administration, said Berry was talking about “environmental sustainability” before the phrase became popular.
“He would ask the questions people didn’t ask. … Doc was one of the most remarkable, compassionate persons I’ve ever met,” said Tam, a 1966 graduate of Punahou School.
“He was a man way ahead of his time and a consummate teacher.”
Berry sat on the boards of the Hawaii Writing Project, State Film Board, and Hawaii Educators For Social Responsibility.
On Jan. 10, 2013, he received a proclamation from then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who recognized his contributions to Hawaii and declared the day “Doc Berry Day.”
Berry is survived by his daughter Nina, a Los Angeles writer.
Services will be April 12 at 3 p.m. at Thurston Memorial Chapel on the Punahou School campus. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Paul “Doc” Berry Endowed Fund, care of Punahou School, which supports faculty professional development with an emphasis on sustainability.