SOUTH PORTLAND — Shirley M. Berry, a retired executive secretary at Texaco Oil Co. whose interests included art and photography, died Friday. She was 88.

Ms. Berry was remembered by her family Sunday as a warm and caring woman who kept herself busy pursuing her passions: painting landscapes, researching her family genealogy and spending time with family.

“She was amazing,” said her niece, Sherry E. Biegel of Windham. “She was fun, caring and loving. She always had neat things to do and if something made us happy, she would do it.”

Ms. Berry grew up in the York area and graduated from Portland High School in 1939. She subsequently graduated from Northeastern Business College in Portland.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, she joined the Civil Air Patrol and was involved with the USO in Florida. At one time, she was engaged to a soldier who went off to war.

Ms. Berry never married and had no children, but she was part of the fabric of the family. Her niece said she was like a mother to her. She said they got together for holidays, family meals and birthday parties.

“Every Mother’s Day was for the three of us,” she said. “It was always Mom, me and Shirley. I loved her dearly. She made us girls feel as though we could accomplish whatever we wished to do.”

Ms. Berry worked as a secretary at Texaco in South Portland for more than 40 years. At one time, she handled secretarial duties for five people in the office. Biegel said her aunt enjoyed the variety in her work and was proud to work there. She retired at age 55 and immersed herself in her hobbies.

Ms. Berry had an interest in history. Biegel said her aunt and mother would go on day trips and outings to explore old cemeteries for their family genealogy. She enjoyed photography and working in the garden at her home in South Portland.

For many years, Ms. Berry met a group of people for coffee every morning at Rudy’s of the Cape in Cape Elizabeth. There, she enjoyed socializing with regular patrons and talking with lobstermen.

Biegel said her aunt was easy to talk to and will be missed.

“Oh man I’ll miss the fact that she won’t be a phone call away or a visit away,” Biegel said. “She was always interested — no matter what it was. If you were having a bad day, she cheered you up and made you look at the bright side of things.”

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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