William F. Berry
by Ralph J. Gray
from TSOP Newsletter 12 (1), March 1995
Dr. William Francis Berry, an internationally known coal scientist and geologist, died on December 22, 1994 after a long battle with cancer. Bill was bom May 2, 1920 to Harvey L. and Delia Ingraham Berry in Patterson, New Jersey. He was the fifth of six children who survived.

He served as a pilot during World War II in the South Pacific. He was shot down over New Guinea, hospitalized for nine months with a broken back, and told that he would never walk again. He survived the ordeal and was able to walk. Bill entered the Fort Devens branch of the University of Massachussetts after being discharged from the service.

He transferred to the main campus where he received a B.S. in Geology in 1950 even though he majored in Civil Engineering until his junior year. He received his M.S. in Geology (Soil Science) from there in 1952.

In that same year Bill received a Geology Fellowship for a Ph.D. at The Pennsylvania State University under Dr. William Spackman. His Ph.D. thesis was accepted in 1959 and the degree was awarded in 1961. Bill specialized in micropaleontology. He collaborated with Dr. Spackman to produce a movie on the thermal microscopy of coal using a heating stage to transform coal macerals to their carbonized products. This was a one-of-a-kind effort. U.S. Steel Corporation sponsored his work on the movie and on predicting the carbonization potential of coal from its petrographic characteristics. This was the subject of Bill's Ph.D. dissertation and part of this work resulted in his receiving the AISI Best Paper Award at the American Iron and Steel Institute in 1960.

Bill was a charter member of the International Commission for Coal Petrography (ICCP) and a former member of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), as well as the International Standards Organization (ISO). He served as the American Energy Consultant to the European Common Market for approximately twelve years. Bill was a Certified Professional Geologist (AIPG No. 1956) and a Fellow in the Geological Society of America (GSA). He was also a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), American Association of Independent Laboratories (AAOL), American Chemical Society (ACS), American Institute of Mechanical Engineers (AIME), and The Society for Organic Petrology (TSOP).

Bill was a former Project Coordinator of Bituminous Coal Research, the industrial laboratory for the American coal industry, from 1961 until 1968. He then founded W.F. Berry Associates, Inc. offering consulting services to the mining, metals, and mineral industries. Although specializing in coal and coke petrography, his group also offered professional services in property development, geologic data interpretation, in-plant studies of process variables, and literature surveys. The international group S.G.S. purchased W.F. Berry Associates in 1983 and later, through another S.G.S. purchase, it became part of the Commercial Testing & Engineering Company (CT&E). In 1984 Bill started CO-AG Consultants, Inc. which served the coal, steel, and bulk shipping industries for over ten years. He was actively involved in cleaning waste water from all sources with the A.C. Electrocoagulator. He owned many of the patents on electric field flocculation. Bill was widely recognized as an expert in the spontaneous combustion of coal and for his involvement in the safe storage, handling, and transportation of bulk cargoes — especially coal, iron ore, direct reduced iron (DRI), scrap iron, machine turnings, and non-ferrous ores.

Bill had a widely diversified background in coal utilization and an in-depth knowledge of the national and international energy picture. He authored or co-authored about 20 scientific publications. His most recent work was on the spontaneous combustion of coal for the Encyclopedia of Energy Technology and the Environment. He served as a consultant to many major domestic and international companies and institutions. He pioneered industrial petrographic applications and will be remembered for his leadership role in this area.

Bill was Past Chairman of the GSA Coal Division and chaired the ACS Symposium in 1963. Southern Illinois University held "An Oral History of Applied Coal Petrology and the Triangle Run" in May 1992, for which Bill, Ralph Gray, William Spackman, and Rich Thompson were the honored speakers. In the 1950s and 1960s industrial coal petrographers, both domestic and international, often visited Penn State [State College, PA], Bethlehem Steel [Bethlehem, PA], and U.S. Steel Research [Monroeville, PA] in order to exchange samples, equipment, and materials that dealt with the developing science of industrial coal and coke petrography. This was often called the "Triangle Run."

Bill Berry has left an indelible imprint on coal science. He has been appreciated, and will be long remembered, as a good friend and for his many contributions as a coal geologist and petrologist. Bill is survived by his wife Shirley, his sons David Berry and Donald Tessmer, and his daughters Laura Lee Berry and Karyn Konn. His son Scott died earlier in an accident. He is also survived by five grandchildren. His family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Forbes Hospice in Pittsburgh (PA) or to the American Cancer Society.