Lindy Berry, a former TCU All-America quarterback, dies at 86

04/22/2014 5:22 PM

04/23/2014 2:52 PM

When TCU honored its greatest football players, Lindy H. Berry, an All-America quarterback in 1949, was modest about being included among the school’s legends.

“There was Kenneth Davis and there was Bob Lilly signing autographs, but Lindy was almost embarrassed asking ‘Why would anyone want mine?’ ” said Jack Hesselbrock, TCU associate athletic director.

But Mr. Berry, a member of TCU’s Letterman’s Association Hall of Fame, was one of the school’s best.

He was all-Southwest Conference in 1947, 1948 and 1949 and still holds the TCU career record for punt return yards with 1,372. He is one of just two players since 1948 to lead TCU in rushing and passing in the same season

Mr. Berry died Saturday of complications related to pneumonia. He was 86.

Dan Jenkins, a sportswriter and novelist, covered Mr. Berry and considered him a friend. Mr. Berry shone against Southern Methodist University legend Doak Walker, who was considered one of the greatest college football players of his generation, Jenkins said.

“He was going up against a lot of greats, including Doak,” Jenkins said. “He played Doak three times and never lost. They tied twice and Lindy beat him once. It was a great duel.”

But Mr. Berry wasn’t one to talk about his football exploits.

His son, John Berry of Dallas, said he learned that his father had told his mother to put away all of his football memorabilia.

“When I was little, he asked Mom to hide everything from me,” John Berry said. “He said, ‘I want to be a dad. I don't want to be a football player.’ ”

As he got older, John Berry learned more about his dad’s collegiate career and came away impressed that he played games with his jaw wired shut and was one of the first players to wear a face mask.

John Berry later watched his own son, Charlie, play football at SMU. But Charlie always wanted to rehash games with his grandfather.

“The hard part was Charlie played for SMU, which was Dad’s arch rival,” John Berry said. “He caught a lot of flak for cheering for Charlie, but Dad didn't miss a beat. He was going to cheer for his grandson.”

Mr. Berry was born in Wichita Falls on Dec. 21, 1927. He married Mary Schwartz on Dec. 27, 1951, in Fort Worth.

After college, Mr. Berry spent most of his career at Steamatic Inc., where he retired as vice president/general manager.

Former TCU football player Marshall E. Harris was a freshman when Mr. Berry was a senior. He remembers Mr. Berry being approachable even when he was an All-America.

The two men remained lifelong friends, and Harris drove Mr. Berry to a monthly get-together at Angelo’s with former football players and friends.

“It just impressed me that even if you receive prestigious awards, you still need to be a normal person,” Harris said. “I saw him being agitated, but I never really remember him being angry about anything. He was just a true gentleman.”

Mr. Berry helped organize Bible Study Fellowship for men in Fort Worth and was a member of McKinney Memorial Bible Church for more than 40 years.

In addition to his wife and son, survivors include a daughter, Judy Collins of Dallas; a brother, Wilburn Berry of Dallas; a sister, Charlene Wilcox of Wichita Falls; two grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.

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