Industry mourns Murry Berger
Frozen seafood industry pioneer and former National Fisheries Institute (NFI) President Murry Pearson Berger passed away on 6 April, according to a statement from NFI. He was 87.
Born in Pittsburgh, Berger’s career in the seafood industry dates back to the early 1950s, when not long after serving in the U.S. Army in World War II, Berger founded Oceans of the World, one of the nation’s first frozen seafood companies. The company later was rebranded as Seabrook International Foods, serving most supermarket and food service chains in the United States. The company also imported and exported to and from 30 countries worldwide.
It was while running Seabrook that Berger opened up trade relations for his company with China, which he began work to establish in 1967. At the time, China had no relations with the United States, and Berger’s overtures began five years before President Richard Nixon’s landmark 1972 visit to the country. Berger is credited with being one of the first American businessmen to do business with China at the time, and with opening doors there for other seafood companies in the years to come. The move remains one of Berger’s most recognized accomplishments in the industry.
“Few people can claim to have started and led an industry,” NFI President John Connelly said in a statement following Berger’s death. “It is important to recall that Murry’s vision of creating trade partnerships in Asia predated the Internet, regular flights between America and China, and even diplomatic relations between the countries.”
Berger supported many industry and public service organizations, serving three terms with the U.S. Department of Interior as a member of the Outer Continental Shelf Advisory Board. He was a Director of the Ocean Trust Environmental Group and member of the Fish and Seafood Promotional Council. He also served as past president of the American Seafood Distributers Association, and as a member of the New Jersey Economic Recovery Commission.
Berger also served as president and chairman of the board of NFI, and founded and served as chairman of the National Fisheries Scholarship Fund. Now known as the Seafood Industry Research Fund, Connelly called it “a major source of funding for seafood-related research.”
Berger is predeceased by his first wife, Helen “Jerry” Berger, who passed away in 1986. He is survived by his wife, Linda Berger; two sons, Dr. Lee Berger and Keith Berger; daughters-in law Kathy and Joan; stepdaughters Jena Boomhower and Lori Pfeifer; five grandchildren; three step-grandchildren; two great-grandchildren and two brothers, Arthur and Herbert Berger.
A funeral service will be held on Thursday, 11 April, 2013 in Franklin Lakes, N.J. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made in Murry’s memory to Carl’s Camp, Oasis — A Haven for Women and Children, 59 Mill St., Paterson, N. J., 07501.