Jerome Jesse Berry was the father of Hollywood star Halle Berry, who won an Academy Award for her role in Monster’s Ball. He was a former Air Force veteran, a bus driver, and a hospital attendant. He was also a troubled and abusive man, who divorced Halle’s mother when she was four years old, and became estranged from his family. He died in 2003, at the age of 68, from Parkinson’s disease. But who was Jerome Jesse Berry, and what was his relationship with his daughter?
A Life of Hardship and Violence
Jerome Jesse Berry was born on August 7, 1934, in Clarksdale, Mississippi, to Robert Kester Berry and Cora Lee Berry. He was one of 12 children, and grew up in a poor and segregated area. He joined the Air Force as a young man, and served in Korea and Germany. He later moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked as a bus driver for Bluebird Travel Lines.
He met Judith Ann Hawkins, a nurse, at a psychiatric hospital where he also worked as a porter. They married in 1964, and had two daughters, Heidi and Halle. However, their marriage was unhappy and violent, as Jerome was an alcoholic and a womanizer, who physically and verbally abused Judith and the children. He also cheated on Judith with his former girlfriend, Edwina Taylor, who gave birth to his third daughter, Renee.
Judith divorced Jerome in 1970, when Halle was four years old, and took the children with her. She raised them as a single mother, working as a secretary and a nurse. She moved the family to a predominantly white suburb, where Halle faced racism and bullying. Jerome rarely saw or contacted his children, and became a distant and bitter figure in their lives.
A Strained and Estranged Relationship with Halle
Halle Berry was born on August 14, 1966, in Cleveland, Ohio. She was named after a department store, Halle Brothers, where her mother worked. She was a beautiful and talented girl, who excelled in school, sports, and beauty pageants. She won the Miss Teen All American in 1985, and the Miss Ohio USA in 1986. She later pursued a career in modeling and acting, and moved to New York and then Los Angeles.
Halle had a difficult and complicated relationship with her father, who she blamed for the abuse and neglect she suffered as a child. She said that he was a racist, who hated white people and himself. She said that he was a coward, who abandoned his family and his responsibilities. She said that he was a monster, who scarred her emotionally and psychologically.
She also said that she tried to reconnect with him several times, but he always rejected her or hurt her. She said that he denied being her father, and accused her of lying about her identity. She said that he threatened to kill her and her mother, and even hired a hitman to do so. She said that he refused to acknowledge or apologize for his actions, and showed no remorse or love.
She said that she eventually gave up on him, and cut him off from her life. She said that she forgave him, but did not forget him. She said that she learned to love herself, and to heal from her wounds. She said that she did not hate him, but pitied him.
A Lonely and Painful Death
Jerome Jesse Berry died on January 24, 2003, at Euclid General Hospital in Euclid, Ohio. He had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disorder that affects the nervous system and causes tremors, stiffness, and difficulty in movement and speech. He was 68 years old.
He was buried at Cleveland Memorial Gardens in Cleveland, Ohio. His obituary was brief and did not mention his famous daughter or his book. It only stated that he was survived by his children, grandchildren, and friends.
He died alone and forgotten, with no one by his side. He died without reconciling with his family, or making peace with his past. He died without leaving a positive or meaningful legacy, or making a difference in the world.
He died as Jerome Jesse Berry, the father of Halle Berry, but not the father she deserved.