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Robert Berry

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Towards the end of a successful career and raising four children, Bob Berry thought of ways he could pay it forward for the beautiful life the Lord had given him.

He had a long career in the Aerospace industry in senior management positions culminating in the position of Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Company. In that position he oversaw all financial and contractual matters for this large aviation company. Additionally, he later worked as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Lockheed Federal Credit Union.

“I had this feeling that the Lord’s been very good to me – he blessed me with a great wife and kids and a successful career and now it is time to give something back,” said Bob, 76, who graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston College and holds a B.S. degree in Economics, and an M.B.A. in Finance from the University of Southern California. He is also a graduate of The Executive Program at the University of Virginia.

“I’ve had a fabulous life,” said the grandfather of seven who lives in Ventura with his wife, Patty. “I took early retirement from Lockheed and thought traveling, sailing and golf was not going to be enough. What am I going to do now? I had to find a way to start giving back for all the blessings I had.”

He knew he was not much of a hands-on guy, but more of a management type and there was one thing that he did know a lot about: financial management, economics and accounting.

“And then the light went on in my head – maybe the church needs that, so I started to get involved and to volunteer,” Bob said. “I don’t know how to cook and I’m not a sales guy but I know about dollars and cents. I know how to manage large enterprises, I know how to do budgeting and financial analysis and control – the church definitely needs that as well and Canon law wisely mandates that every diocese and parish have a Finance Council.”

His first step in that direction was an appointment by Cardinal Mahoney to the Board of Directors of St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo. Bob was soon asked to be Treasurer and he served in that capacity for 14 years, stepping down in 2015. His experience at St. John’s led to his volunteer role on the Finance Council of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Investment Committee of the ADLA.

He and Patty later joined the Advisory Board of Catholic Charities of Ventura County where he was asked to be Chairman of the Finance Committee. They also volunteered to join the Board of Regents at Mary Health of the Sick in Newbury Park. Bob is also a member of his parish Finance Council. He has been a Eucharistic Minister for many years.

“When we think about the church we tend to think about all of the good things the church does – feeding people, taking care of the poor and the sick, educating children, etc. ” Bob said. “To do all of those things you have to have the necessary financial resources to do them with and they have to be carefully managed. So there is a need for those kinds of skills and expertise. I understand that, and that’s what I’ve volunteered to do.”

Born into an Irish Catholic family and raised in New England, Bob considers himself a “cradle Catholic” whose faith was part of daily life.

“We went to church all the time,” he recalled. “I’ve always been a Catholic and as I’ve gotten older, I think my faith has become much stronger. My wife Patty has been a great model for me. The Jesuits at Boston College gave me a classic intellectual Catholicism, but she has shown me a better Catholicism of the heart.”

His foundation of faith comes from knowing the Lord Jesus. Bob and Patty are members of the Order of Malta whose charism is serving the sick and the poor. Likewise, their work with Catholic Charities and Mary Health of the Sick in helping the needy carries on the mission of the church.

Looking back on his volunteerism, Bob said he was astonished when he received a phone call from
Archbishop Gomez who told him he had been chosen to receive a Cardinal’s Award.

“The first thing that came to my mind was – not me,” Bob said. “When the Archbishop asks you to accept an honor, however, you don’t say no. I said I don’t feel like I deserve this – I haven’t done anything special – I just try to do what little I can with those gifts that I have to serve.”

Nevertheless, “I’m very pleased with the honor – everybody likes to get a pat on the back and told ‘hey you’ve done a good job,’ ” Bob said. “But I don’t feel special in any way. Receiving this is a great honor and it was a big surprise to me.”