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Murry P. Berger: A Man for Others

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Murry P. Berger and his wife, Linda, have created a charitable gift annuity with Saint Peter's that provides them with payments for life.

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 to discuss your options for creating a legacy that involves Saint Peter's.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Saint Peter's University a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

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The official bequest language for Saint Peter's University is: "I, [name], of [city, state, ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to Saint Peter's University, 2641 Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City, NJ 07306 [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose." 

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Saint Peter's University or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

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A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays the University set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the gift tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Saint Peter's University as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Saint Peter's University as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Saint Peter's University where you agree to make a gift to Saint Peter's University and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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