Murry P. Berger: A Man for Others
Murry P. Berger is a man for others. In addition to being a devoted family man, he is also a seafood entrepreneur who successfully developed companies that employed hundreds—if not thousands—of people throughout his career.
If you've purchased frozen vegetables or seafood from a major supermarket or foodservice chain in the United States within the past 60 years, chances are you've enjoyed products from places Murry has either worked, oversaw as president or owned himself.
Using His Business Savvy to Give Back
Murry's extended business know-how was a decisive factor in his choosing to establish a charitable gift annuity to benefit Saint Peter's University. The friendships he cultivated with several members of the University as a trustee for the Independent University Fund of New Jersey during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and his time as a member of Saint Peter's Board of Regents in 1983 and regent emeritus in 1989 provided Murry with a glimpse of the University's dedication in educating the next generation of leaders.
So when he sought out his next opportunity to use his money wisely, it seemed only fitting to participate in the University's charitable gift annuity program. The program was established in 1998 as a way for friends and alumni of Saint Peter's to make gifts of cash, securities or other assets to the University and receive fixed payments for life.
Saint Peter's has agreed to pay Murry and his wife, Linda, a fixed sum in exchange for the gift. "It's a good way to give a donation," Murry says.
Not only is the charitable gift annuity a good business proposition, it will also help the University continue its honorable calling of providing students with a quality education built upon the Jesuit values of dignity and value of each person, development of the whole self, and a call to human excellence that creates action-oriented individuals in the classroom and within the world.
From Student to CEO
Murry's extended business savvy is a testament to his upbringing, education and ambitious undertakings. Born to Charles and Fannie Berger, he grew up in McKeesport, Pa. There, he attended McKeesport High School and subsequently entered the U.S. Army Enlisted Reserve. At 18, he was inducted into the Army and joined the 66th Infantry Division for 39 months, of which 23 were spent in the European Theater of Operations during World War II.
Upon release from the Army, Murry attended Duquesne University. After graduating in 1948, he began his professional career as an executive at Seapak Corporation and went on to form Oceans of the World Inc. in 1955.
In 1969, his business merged with Seabrook Foods Inc., leading Murry to become the new company's controlling shareholder and president. Stellar sales and profits five years after the fusion led frozen food company Springs Mills Inc. to acquire Seabrook as an autonomous subsidiary. In 1976, Seabrook International Foods Inc. was formed as a separate core company entity and Murry was subsequently named president and CEO.
Starting Food Trade With China
Murry's business savvy goes far beyond the borders of the United States. He is a recognized expert on the subject of trade with China, and has made 28 trips to the country. It's a relationship that began when the People's Republic of China invited him to be the first U.S. representative of the food industry to trade at the Canton Fair in 1971. Later, he served as the director of the United States-China Trade and as chairman of its Foods Import Committee.
"I was the first man to start food trade with China," Murry recalls. He imported seafood, vegetables and even rabbits from the region. "It's something that has benefitted our country. Today, we are their biggest trading partner."
Hands-On Instruction Is Key
Through his relationship with China and membership on his alma mater's board of directors, Murry was able to facilitate semesters abroad for students. According to Murry, this type of hands-on instruction, along with personalized attention in the classroom, creates success.
"I'm a firm believer that there has to be a very close relationship between a college and the students," he says. "It's important to educate people in their fields and help that individual get a job. That's the most important thing that any college has to do."
Surrounded by Family
Along with various monikers from career and board memberships, Murry also holds the titles of husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Murry was married to the late Helen for 39 years and has two sons—John, an orthopedic surgeon; and Keith, a businessman—five grandsons; and two great-granddaughters.
After the passing of his first wife, Murry found love again in his second marriage to Linda, who he has been with for 25 years. Murry resides with his wife and family in Wyckoff, N.J., and Boca Raton, Fla.
How Do You Want to Be Remembered?
Murry is a living example of faith-based generosity. Along with his charitable gift annuity, he has also donated several works of art throughout the years to Saint Peter's.
Through his professional, personal and philanthropic efforts, Murry has created a legacy for himself, yet wants to be recognized for humble reasons. "I want to be remembered as an honest man," he says, "and for the things I did that benefitted young people. By giving them the same opportunities I had, I hope I helped students realize their dreams as I was fortunate enough to do myself."
Start Crafting Your Legacy Today
Contact Sharon T. Morrissey, M.B.A., M.Ed. '13 at (201) 761-6126 (office) and (201) 618-4230 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your options for creating a legacy that involves Saint Peter's.