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1954 David 2024

David Berry

June 20, 1954 — June 19, 2024

Beloved father, pop pop, uncle, brother, and friend David Decker Berry, known to many as Dave and to fewer as Captain Sparkomatic, raised his final toast to life on June 19, 2024, one day shy of his 70th birthday. He passed in Milltown, NJ, surrounded by loved ones, after a difficult battle with a degenerative neurological disease that impacted much of his physical capabilities, but until the very end never stole his quick wit and sense of humor. 

Dave was born in Ridgewood, NJ on June 20, 1954 to Charles and Rose Marie Berry. He spent his summers in Green Pond, NJ, where he developed a deep love for sailing and accumulated friends and stories that stayed with him for the rest of his life. After graduating from Morris Knolls High School, Dave attended Lehigh University, with a brief stint at UMass Amherst, graduating from Lehigh in 1976 with a degree in business and economics. 

However, one could argue that more important than business, Dave spent his young adult years cultivating his love for The Grateful Dead and the cult dice game Cosmic Wimpout, which earned him the famous nickname Captain Sparkomatic. He shared this love with his children, who continue on the tradition of bouncing dice off their foreheads, trying to “get out of Brooklyn”, and in general irritating their mother with rules that she insists are made up on the spot.

Demonstrating a loyalty and commitment that defined much of his life, Dave’s first job out of college was with IBM, where he stayed for 43 years until he retired in 2019. Starting as a systems engineer, he rose the ranks and became a customer loyalty program manager for the Z System. As Dave realized the beauty of working from home long before the rest of the world, his family not-so-fondly remembers listening to business calls as he paced the house, talking in tongues about the Z3 series for hours on end.

His loyalty was not reserved only for his career, but for his other great love, the New York Yankees. Famously attending 19 home openers in a row before being thwarted by a business trip, Dave found no greater joy than a Bud Light, a hot dog, and a good game of baseball. He took his children to many games at both the old and new stadiums, including Mariano Rivera’s last home game before retirement. Perhaps most importantly, he took his grandson to his first ever baseball game, where they together watched the Yankees win and the baseball bug was passed from one generation to the next. He religiously watched every game on TV up until his final days.

Dave was best known for his love of games and parties. Wherever Dave went, the party followed. Summers were filled with music constantly blaring over the outdoor speakers, there was never a New Year’s Eve without a balloon drop and karaoke, and every year Dave put on a fireworks show that could rival any city’s on the Fourth of July. He brought people together through games, from cornhole in the backyard to Yahtzee around the dining table, including his famous “400 Club” where anyone could etch their name and score into his decades-old Yahtzee box if they proved themselves worthy. He had a joy for life that spread easily to everyone around him, and his generosity of spirit was never more evident than when he was feeding the masses off his grill, jamming along to music, and refilling the cooler with fresh ice. Life was a party, and Dave took advantage of any opportunity to celebrate with the people he loved.

But more than anything else, Dave was a family man. His most important roles in life were that of husband and father, and later on as pop pop. He loved and cared for both human children and many four-legged best friends. From cheering on at countless sporting events, to teaching his sons how to fix just about anything, to sharing his love of crosswords with his daughter, to donning a ratty Easter Bunny costume for the amusement of all of the children in the family, Dave loved being a dad. His wife, Claudia, was on the receiving end of his endless thoughtful gifts, spontaneous family outings, and surprise trips for nearly 40 years of marriage. She lovingly cared for him in their home until his peaceful passing, honoring a love and commitment that sustained them both for decades.

Dave is survived by his wife, Claudia, his children, Daniel, Jessica (Lacy), and Benjamin, his grandson Kieran and soon-to-be-born granddaughter, and his brothers Charles (Linda) and Drew (Judy). He was predeceased by his beloved sister Nancy and by his most recent goldendoodle buddy, Yankee Doodle.

A celebration of life will be held at B2 Bistro + Bar in North Brunswick on Friday, August 2nd at 1 PM. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the ASPCA or to CurePSP at psp.org in Dave’s honor. Nothing would have made him happier than for those he loved to raise a glass and share a great story about your memories of him. If you feel so inclined, reach out and share them with us as well.

The Crabiel Home for Funerals, 170 N Main St.-at Riva Avenue, Milltown is handling funeral arrangements, you may sign the online guestbook at www.crabiel.com

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of David Berry, please visit our flower store.

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