Cover photo for Weddell James (Jim) Berkey, Jr.'s Obituary
Weddell James (Jim) Berkey, Jr. Profile Photo
1938 Weddell 2022

Weddell James (Jim) Berkey, Jr.

May 20, 1938 — February 14, 2022

Weddell James (Jim) Berkey, Jr., May 20, 1938-February 14, 2022. Jim Berkey never met a stranger. Man of many talents, Jim’s greatest attribute was his ability to disarm anyone with his warm smile, hearty laughter, and jokes. Third child and elder son of Goshen attorney, Weddell “Kotch” Berkey, Sr. and Dorothy Compton Berkey, Jim and his family divided their time between their Goshen home and their cottage on Lake Wawasee. Sisters Barbara and Jeanne excelled at waterski jumping. Dan, his younger brother, skied and played football. Jim, however, followed his parents’ footsteps, playing golf at an early age, first caddying at the Wawasee Golf Club across the road from the cottage, then caddying for and learning from famous visiting pros such as Babe Zaharias. It was also there on the golf course, in the dead of night, where Jim hunted nightcrawlers for fishing with Kotch and family, armed with a flashlight and white hankie. Jim earned his AB in Spanish from Hanover College on the Ohio River in Indiana. Then, instead of pursuing the law, he joined the newly formed Peace Corps. After training at Notre Dame U., he and his Chile II compadres sailed for Santiago aboard a cargo ship, along with their sponsors and Notre Dame President Father Ted Hesburgh. For the next two years Jim and his fellow volunteers traveled around the countryside, helping campesinos form rural cooperatives. After the Peace Corps, Jim returned home and fell in love first thing with Anita on Lake Wawasee. In the fall he studied international marketing at Thunderbird School of International Marketing in Arizona, and Anita finished her final year at Indiana U., Bloomington. The Berkeys were married in 1965. They lived in Mexico, Costa Rica and Venezuela while Jim worked for Miles Laboratories and Northern Indiana Brass Co., traveling for four years throughout Mexico, Central and South America. It was then that they started their family. After returning to the US and earning his teaching certificate from Goshen College, Jim and Co. left Indiana so he could teach Spanish and social studies in Villa Park, IL. Later, he became a realtor in the western suburbs, and he and the family lived in Bensenville and Glen Ellyn, IL, for the next 25 years. Upon retirement, Jim and Anita followed their sons, Chris and Tad south and settled near Nashville in White Bluff, TN. They joined Redeemer Presbyterian Church and quickly made many new Tennessee friends. Jim made fast fishing chums with Vince Conese and Boyd Taylor. He served as an elder at Redeemer until his health concerns made him seek emeritus status. Jim reveled in almost year-round golf and played with the Senior Men’s League at Montgomery Bell Golf Course. Friends couldn’t believe their eyes when Jim shot his hole- in-one. As time went on, summer heat became a huge problem for his health. It was a very sad day when he realized that he could no longer play the game he loved. After that, he resolved to regain his strength so he could fish with Vince and Boyd. One of the perks of living near Nashville was the chance to enjoy the music scene. Jim and Anita spent many evenings at the Station Inn attending Shawn Camp, Verlon Thompson and Steel Drivers concerts. At home Jim played banjo, ukulele and spoons; Anita played along on guitar and mandolin. Berkey’s greatest joys were his family: Chris and Carey, Tad and granddaughters Lucia, Kailey and Mira. How he loved to follow them all and their achievements! Preceding Jim in death were his parents and two sisters, Barbara Grant and Jeanne Eissman. Surviving are his wife, Anita(Rodgers), son Chris and daughter-in-law, Carey Szetela, son Tad, and granddaughters, Lucia, Kailey and Mira Berkey, and his younger brother, Dan Berkey(Marilyn), of Boulder, CO, and Lake Wawasee, IN. Kind, generous and loving, Jim loved life and had a “thirst for fellowship,” as Patti Robertson put it. Jim loved and now is with The Lord. A memorial celebration will be held in his honor on Sunday, March 13, at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, west of Dickson, just off HWY 70 West at 7 Valley West Dr. Set your clocks ahead!!! Friends and family are welcome at any or all parts: 3:00 Visitation 4:00 Service 5:00 Dinner for church, friends and family following the service. Kindly call or text Anita Berkey at 615-797-5998 if you plan to stay for dinner. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jim’s honor to his church, Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Anyone wishing to donate online may do so at rpcdickson.org
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