Environmental business leader and humanitarian Cliff Berry Sr. passes at 93 FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – Cliff Berry Sr., founder and longtime president of Fort Lauderdale-based environmental services firm Cliff Berry, Inc., and dedicated humanitarian, has passed away at the age of 93. Berry was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale and, following service in the U.S. Air Force, began his career on the molasses and oil docks of Port Everglades in the early 1950s before founding his own firm in 1958.
A lifelong entrepreneur, Berry had many successful companies including Berry Brothers Oil, Broward Fuels, Cook Oil Home Heating, two tree farms, a mountain restaurant in North Carolina, Everglades Services, and Cliff Berry, Inc. (CBI). Under his leadership, CBI has grown into an internationally recognized provider of comprehensive environmental services, including oil spill and emergency response, environmental protection and waste collection, management and disposal, with eight offices and more than 200 employees.
Berry advanced numerous industry innovations, including design and implementation of a manifold system with loading arms for safe and efficient discharging of petroleum vessels. In the 1960s, he fabricated the first vacuum trucks for Port Everglades clean-up operations – and the fleet now encompasses more than 800 modern motorized vehicles, vessels and specialized equipment. Furthermore, he led many significant successful spill and disaster response efforts throughout the Southeast and beyond including, Hurricane Andrew in South Florida; the three-vessel collision and oil spill in Tampa Bay; M/V MORRIS J. BERMAN grounding and spill in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Deepwater Horizon BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico; amongst many others.
As impressive as his industry accomplishments have been, Berry is perhaps most esteemed for his unwavering commitment to charitable endeavors, including decades-long support of the Seafarers’ House at Port Everglades, having been honored in 2001 with its International Golden Compass Award. He served as president and longtime board member of Port Everglades Association, which in 2020 recognized him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. He received multiple honors from the U.S. Coast Guard, including the 1995 William M. Benkert Award for outstanding achievements in marine environmental protection and 1999 Distinguished Public Service Award, the Services’ second highest honor bestowed on a civilian.
Berry Reef, off the Fort Lauderdale coast, was named for him in 1987, honoring his advocacy of artificial reef programs, and his enduring support of Trinity Lutheran Church and School in Fort Lauderdale included construction and donation of a key building on the Trinity Lutheran campus.
He was preceded in death earlier this year by his wife of 72 years, Betty, with whom he had six children: Cynthia, Sandra, Candace, Barbara, Kimberlee and Cliff II. He had four brothers, eleven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Memorial services are scheduled for Friday, Oct. 6, at 4:30 p.m., following viewing from 2:30 p.m., at Trinity Lutheran Church, 11 S.W. 11th St., Fort Lauderdale.
A celebration of life is planned for Tuesday, Oct. 17, from 4 to 7 p.m., at Lauderdale Yacht Club, 1725 S.E. 12th St., Fort Lauderdale.
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Cliff Berry Inc.