John Berry was born in Liverpool, England, in 1941, but for most of the war years lived in Rugby, Warwickshire, where his father was part of the team building the first jet engine.
After the war the family move to Ipswich, Suffolk, a port town on the River Orwell. It was here that John developed an unrequited love of the sea and sailing ships.
John has two brothers, one of whom has been sailing the Pacific Ocean in a small boat for the last five years; his other brother lives in Melbourne, Australia.
As a teenager, John was into cycling, sailing, archaeology, and geology. He was part of a school team that excavated every summer at the Romano-British side of Combretovium, near Baylham Mill, Suffolk. He also took some very long cycle rides throughout East Anglia and across England to Chester (250 miles in one day).
John won a scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania and moved to Philadelphia at the age of 18, graduating in three years with a degree in Geology and within a hair’s breadth of another in Anthropology. He then moved to New York to study Oceanography and Geophysics at Columbia University. While at Penn John became the Editor of the Pennsylvania Literary Review and also helped run the Connaissance lecture series, which brought international leaders to speak on campus.
During his first two summers in the USA John toured as much of it as he could, at first hitchhiking and then, when that became too risky, on a 150 cc Honda motorcycle, on which he rode 11,000 miles in 6 weeks. The second summer he toured mainly by bus.
After graduation, John worked on Ice Station T-3 (See article for Professional Surveyor) a manned tabular iceberg in the Arctic Ocean, then located near 83° 50′ N, 165° W.
John married Arlene Jordan on Feb 29, 1964; when he finished his master’s degree they moved first to England and then to Kitwe, Zambia (see Expeditions and Zambian Stories), where John worked as an exploration geologist on the Copperbelt.
In 1973 John and Arlene returned to the USA and settled in Western North Carolina, where John helped devise and teach the Environmental Science Associate Degree course at Southwestern Technical Institute. He also did consulting for the US Forest Service Coweeta research station, the State of Idaho, and Appalachian Minerals Corporation, as well as leading a geochemical team for the National Uranium Resource Evaluation (NURE) project.
John joined Earth Satellite Corporation in Bethesda, MD, in 1982. While there he worked on remote sensing projects all over the world, including 3 months on-site at IREN in Santiago de Chile, two months doing Pb-Zn geochemical exploration fieldwork in Brazil, three months doing oil exploration field work in the Oakland graben of New South Wales, Australia, and three months in Tokyo working on a structural interpretation of the Tarim Basin and southern Tien Shan in the offices of Japex Geophysical Institute.
In 1982 John moved to Shell Mining in Houston, where he led a major remote-sensing-based aerial reconnaissance of Northern Nevada. In 1987 he moved to Shell Oil Company, where he founded a remote sensing group.
Arlene died in 1985 after a long illness; in 1987 John married Ingrid Edlund, an archaeologist and classicist at the University of Texas. They adopted two children, now grown.
In 1999 John left Shell in order to spend more time with his family in Austin, and has been doing consulting work ever since. Since 2006 he has taken the summer off to do a series of very long solo bike tours (see personal.johnlberry.com) in North America, Europe and Asia Minor.