Louise S. Berry ’52, ’61, ’80

Louise S. Berry of Danielson, Connecticut has passed away at the age of 94, after a long life filled with commitment to family, numerous educational and professional achievements, and dedicated service to her town of Killingly, the neighboring town of Brooklyn, and the state of Connecticut. She was Connecticut’s longest serving school superintendent and a former State Senator.

Louise Spaulding Berry was born on November 9, 1927, the daughter of Frances (Upham) Spaulding, a teacher, and Jacob Spaulding, a carpenter, whose ancestors first settled in Killingly in the early 1700s. Louise was the only daughter in the family and had six brothers—Marshall, Malcolm, Nelson, Douglas, Donald, and Frank.

Louise attended Killingly Schools, graduating from Killingly High School in 1945. She attended Adelphi University, from which she earned her Nursing degree in 1948. She then attended the University of Connecticut, where she earned her B.A. in Zoology in 1952. She later earned her M.A. in Guidance and Counseling from UConn in 1961 and did additional graduate work at UConn in Education Administration. In the late 1970s she attended UConn School of Law, earning her J.D. in 1980 and subsequently being admitted to the Connecticut Bar.

Louise was married on June 9, 1951 to her beloved husband Richard C. Berry, with whom she shared 41 years of marriage until his death in 1992. She was the loving mother of five children—Donald, Pamela, Robin, Christopher, and Judith.

Mrs. Berry began her career serving as School Nurse at the Killingly Memorial School in Danielson from 1952 to 1955. After the birth of her first two children, she returned to work as School Nurse at the Brooklyn School in 1958, beginning 58 years of service in the Brooklyn School System. She subsequently served in Brooklyn as Guidance Counselor, Director of Instruction, and Superintendent of Schools.

At the time of her retirement in 2016, Louise Berry was the longest serving school Superintendent in Connecticut history. As described in a 2018 Norwich Bulletin article, she is “credited with creating the first rural Head Start program in the U.S. [and] implementing an early preschool-for-all program before the idea gained traction nationally.” During her service as Superintendent, she was described by the Board of Education Chair as “a treasure to this town and the glue that holds the schools together.” In recognition of her advocacy for early childhood education, the Louise S. Berry Early Childhood Center at the Brooklyn School was dedicated in her honor in 2010. In recognition of her long service to Brooklyn’s schools and students, the road into the Brooklyn School complex was named Louise Berry Drive in 2018.

In addition to her career and accomplishments in education, Mrs. Berry had a long record of civic and community involvement.

She served on the Town of Killingly Board of Education from 1966 to 1981, including service as Board chair in the late 1970s. She also served on boards of numerous organizations, including the Westfield Congregational Church, Day Kimball Hospital, Killingly–Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Connecticut Trails Council of Girl Scouts, Eastern Connecticut Indian Trails Council of Boy Scouts, Quinebaug Valley Health and Welfare Council, Windham Area Community Action Program, Eastern Connecticut Development Council, Easter Seals Society of Connecticut, Newington Children’s Hospital, Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, and New England School Development Council, and as a member of the Killingly Bicentennial Commission, Connecticut Advisory Council for Special Education, Connecticut Commission to Study School Finance and Equal Educational Opportunity, Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, and National Superintendents Roundtable.

In 1972 Louise volunteered to help recruit a candidate to run for State Senate in Connecticut’s 29th District against a long-serving and popular incumbent, not anticipating that the other members of the recruitment committee would recruit her. Unexpectedly, she was elected, becoming one of three women in the 36-member Senate. During her term as State Senator, she chaired the Public Health and Safety Committee, working on public health policy with particular attention to control of hospital and health care costs. She also served on the Education, Environment, Human Rights and Opportunities, Corrections, and Labor Committees. She subsequently served with the Citizens Conference on State Legislatures’ Model Committee Staff Project in Health, providing consultation to public health committees in other state legislatures.

In 1978 Louise was a candidate for Connecticut Secretary of the State. Although that campaign was unsuccessful, she enjoyed the challenge and experience of traveling throughout the state during the fall to meet and talk with voters at meetings, rallies, and other events.

As the holder of three degrees from the University of Connecticut (UConn), and a saxophonist in the UConn Marching Band and member of UConn’s national champion Archery Team during her undergraduate years, Louise was a dedicated and enthusiastic life-long supporter of UConn and its academic and athletic programs. She was a member of the UConn Alumni Association and served on that organization’s Board of Directors from 1987 to 1993, including serving as Chair in 1992 and 1993. In addition, from 1993 to 2001 she served on the UConn Board of Trustees. Beginning in the 1950s, Louise and her husband regularly attended football and basketball games, often joined by family members and friends. In recent decades, Louise enjoyed and celebrated the successes of the women’s and men’s basketball teams, attending numerous NCAA Final Fours.

Louise was also particularly dedicated to, and proud of her involvement with, Quinebaug Valley Community College (QVCC). She and her husband were leaders in the effort to establish a community college in northeastern Connecticut in the early 1970s and were strong supporters of QVCC and the Connecticut Community College System for the remainder of their lives. Both served on the state Board of Trustees for Community Colleges, with Louise appointed to the Board in 1991 by Governor Lowell Weicker, named Board Chair in 2004 by Governor Jodi Rell, and serving on the Board in that capacity until 2011.

Louise greatly enjoyed summer vacations with her family at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, as well as travel with her husband and family, with friends, and as a member of U.S. delegations on international education. Her travels took her to Canada, England, Belgium, France, Greece, Finland, Russia, and China, as well as to many parts of the United States.

Louise Berry was the recipient of awards and honors from numerous national, state, and local organizations. Among these are the University of Connecticut and its Board of Trustees, UConn Alumni Association, UConn Neag School of Education Alumni Society, Connecticut Business and Professional Women’s Association, U.S. and Connecticut Departments of Education, Killingly–Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Connecticut Firemen’s Association, University Council for Educational Administration, and New England Board of Higher Education.

Louise was predeceased by her parents, her brothers, and her husband. She is survived by her five children—Donald Berry of Marblehead, MA, Pamela Berry of Gaithersburg, MD (and husband James Chamberlain), Robin Berry of Marblehead, MA (and husband Robert Maulden), Christopher Berry of Felton, CA (and husband Harry Robert Harper), and Judith Engalichev of Madbury, NH (and husband Constantine Engalichev); her eight grandchildren—Daniel Chamberlain-Stoltzfus (and wife Eleanor Chamberlain-Stoltzfus), Michael Chamberlain, Meghan Chamberlain, Alexandra Maulden, Kyle Maulden, Katherine Engalichev, Elizabeth Engalichev, and Sophia Engalichev; and her two great-grandchildren—Arthur and Adelaide Chamberlain-Stoltzfus. With her life-long career in and commitment to education at all levels, Louise took great interest and pride in the educational achievements of all the members of her family.

She is also survived by her sisters-in-law Eugenia Spaulding and Allie Kay Spaulding and by eight nieces and nephews and their spouses and children. Louise’s family would also like to recognize two close friends of many years who survive her—Mary Fatsi of Thompson, a Brooklyn School colleague, and Glenn Stacy of Danielson, a colleague of Louise’s husband Dick at Rogers Corporation. Louise and Dick Berry enjoyed long friendships with them and their late spouses Ted Fatsi and Marge Stacy.