Longtime Placencia Resident Cleveland Berry Passes - 07/08/12 01:54 PM
Popular Belizean musician and beloved member of the Placencia community, Cleveland Berry succumbed to cancer today, July 6, at 1:20 p.m. at Belize Healthcare Partners Hospital in Belize City.
With plenty of family members at his side, he passed away while Dave Brubeck’s “Take 5” – one of his favorite jazz tunes – played in the background.
Cleveland Berry’s popular Creole calypso singles: “Hurricane Hattie”, “Krismus Bum”, and “Good Mawning Miss Lady” are national classics and often heard on the local radio station Love FM. “CK” as he was affectionately known by friends, played the flute and acoustic guitar. He occasionally played on the Placencia Peninsula with local band The Rejects and joined spontaneous jam sessions often coming unannounced.
Berry’s musical career peaked in the 1950s when he played solo and led vocals and played guitar along with The Skylarks at the Radisson Fort George Hotel and the Bellevue Hotel in Belize City. Berry and the Skylarks received praise while on tour in Mexico.
He also hosted his own jazz radio show on Radio Belize in the 1970s called the “Jazz Hour with Cleveland Berry”.
Berry was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 by the Association for Belizeans Artists First at the Bliss Center for Performing Arts.
Cleveland Berry also established The Galley Restaurant & Bar (located behind the football field) in Placencia Village in the early 1980,s along with his wife Julia Pate-Berry. His seaweed punch (seaweed milkshake spiked with brandy) was very popular in Placencia.
Berry was also a highly-skilled horse shoes and ring toss player in Placencia Village.
He is survived by his sister Farida Berry-Vernon of Canada, brother Ronald Berry, sons William “RB” Berry, Cleveland Berry and Andre Berry of the USA and daughters Belinda Berry of the USA, Dawn Berry-Pollard of Placencia Village and Julie Berry of Santa Catalina, Panama and many grand children, great grand children and cousins. He also worked closely with his kitchen staff Leeda Chirinos and Andrea Chirinos. He is pre-deceased by his wife Julia Pate-Berry and eldest daughter Marla Berry-Holder.
(On a personal note, Mr. Berry was my grandfather and on behalf of the entire Berry family, a heartfelt thank you to everyone who offered their well wishes and condolences during this difficult time. Funeral arrangements are yet to be announced.)