Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services was saddened to learn this week of the passing of our dear friend, Larry Berry. Berry was instrumental in starting the Hickory Flat Volunteer Fire Department back in 1975. This was during a time when the majority of Cherokee County was covered by local volunteer fire departments.
Berry was Chief of the local volunteer fire department for over 40 years. During that time, three fire stations were constructed to serve the citizens in southeastern Cherokee County.
A representative with the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs said that Berry was a man who has touched so many lives. His footprint on the ground in Hickory Flat will remain forever.
On January 17th, 2017, Berry was recognized for his service to the community at the opening the new Fire Station #3 located off Highway 140. Cherokee County Fire Chief, Tim Prather invited Berry to come forward to thank him for his 40 years of service to the Hickory Flat community. The Chief invited Berry to join him at the front of the new station to unveil a plaque dedicating the building to him for his many years of loyalty and service to the fire department.
Many are remembering the impact that Berry had on the community this week. “Chief Larry Berry proudly served the Hickory Flat Community for nearly five decades. He was one of the original founding members that stepped up forming a fire department in a community that had no fire service. I believe many lives and property have been touched by Chief Berry over the years. He was a very highly respected leader of the community. The entire time I worked with him, he was always a professional and respectful leader. He was simply a good Christian man and a good friend. It was a great honor to have known and served with Chief Berry and he will be greatly missed,” stated Cherokee County Fire Chief, Tim Prather.
A lot has changed over the years with the fire service in Cherokee County. In February of 2018, Berry told a reporter with the Cherokee Tribune that Hickory Flat Fire Department’s first fire truck was an “open top” and was stored in and old chicken house off Georgia Highway 140. According to Berry, “There wasn’t enough room to walk down the sides of the engine. You had to climb over the hood and over the windshield to get in the seat.”
Hearts are saddened this week after learning of Berry’s passing, however, his legacy and memory will live on forever. He contributed so much to the fire service in Cherokee County and he will always be remembered as a devoted Chief, a dedicated leader and a dear friend to all. Cherokee County Assistant Fire Chief, Eddie Robinson, said, “There are no words that can truly express what impact Chief Berry has made, not only in my life personally, but on the fire service and our community as a whole. Over the course of his 40 years of service he became an American Fire Service hero and a hero to his community. Not because of any particular acts of bravery, but for the great man, leader, friend and mentor that he was. Simply put, Chief Berry is, and always will be, my personal hero! His influence has made me a better person, husband, firefighter, father, brother, son and servant. He was a quiet man, who never like to be in the spotlight. He was humble, kind, always had a smile on his face, and was truly a great mentor and friend. I can honestly say that I would not be a member of Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services if it were not for Chief Berry and his guidance over the years. He was an incredible man who is loved, and will be missed, by so many.”
Berry was 80 when his passed away at Northside Cherokee Hospital on Wednesday of this week. He is survived by his wife Diane and three daughters, Laurie, Susan and Melinda and several grandchildren. Private funeral services for Berry will be held at the Georgia National Cemetery at a later date.