Emmit Berry, a supporter of Youthfront for sixty-plus years, passed away last week. Emmit was a tremendous man of God and a passionate cheerleader for youth ministry. Recently, my father Dave King, who had become a dear friend of Emmit, and Moree Scofield visited Emmit and wrote this story published this month in the 70th Anniversary Edition of Youthfront News.
Emmit Berry recently turned one hundred-one years old. Around the living room of his apartment are photos of his nine grandchildren, eighteen great-grandchildren and one rather striking photo of his four daughters from years ago. This past month Dave King and I had the pleasure of spending time with Mr. Berry and his youngest daughter, June Davis.
It seems that though Emmit and his late wife, Christine, raised four daughters they never let life and business of their family distract them from pursuing lives committed to Christ. When I asked June how her family got involved with what was at the time, Youth For Christ (YFC), she shared…
“It started out with my oldest sister Emily. Emily attended YFC Club in the early 50’s. She went to the Raytown High School YFC club. She went to all of the rallies, and when YFC had the club meetings on the bus, she went to those meetings, even with the pianos on the bus.
My sister was very involved and knew a lot of kids from Central Bible Church. She was well acquainted with YFC and she was the one who introduced our family to YFC. So although the three of us younger sisters were all 9 years younger than Emily we started attending YFC events in junior high. We lived in Raytown and we would attend events in Shirley French’s home. We always went on Saturday night to rally. Mom would take us up to Fox’s Drug Store in Raytown and we would wait for the bus there to get a ride to rally. We’d go down 50 Hwy to Van Brunt, pick up the kids from East High School and then down to the rally at Grand Avenue Temple. We sang songs from Singspiration and the pianist, Albert Lane, played so well. He could play better than anyone you’d ever known! Daryl Freely was the song leader, we sang hymns and choruses – it was like going to church with all your youth friends. Us four girls were all singers and eventually we came to be known as ‘The Berry Sisters’ and we sang at the YFC Rallies and events.”
June and her father Emmit sat in his apartment and continued to reminisce. Emmit, a long-time friend of Youthfront came to love the organization as much as his daughters did. He spent many a week working at Circle-C Ranch (Youthfront West) building cabins and developing what would be a legacy – many summers spent with Christ for generations to come.
Emmit, his wife and his daughters, have given their time, talents and financial resources to help make Youthfront what it is today. The memories of this man, now over a century old, and the legacy he helped create for his daughters and generations to follow are what make this organization, this ministry so unique and so blessed. Thank you to the Berry Sisters, the Berry family for all you have been to Youthfront.