Charlsie Elizabeth Berly
July 27, 1903 - April 19, 2004
Charlsie Elizabeth Berly, at the age of one-hundred, a retired full-professor of English at Lamar University, died the 19th day of April, 2004, in San Antonio, Texas. Funeral services will be held at First United Methodist Church, 701 Calder Avenue, Beaumont at 2:00 PM on Friday, April 23, 2004. Interment will follow at Magnolia Cemetery. A visitation will be held 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM on Thursday, April 22, 2004 at Broussard’s, 2000 McFaddin Street, Beaumont.
Ms. Berly taught at Lamar for twenty-three years. Her entire teaching career extended over a period of forty-seven years, all but two of which were served in Beaumont, where she was a lifelong resident except for brief absences. In June 1994 she moved to Houston, along with her beloved sister and brother-in-law, Carroll and the late Edwin L. Gorham, Jr., where the three took residence at The Forum, a retirement center. Earlier this year, Ms. Berly moved to The Forum at Lincoln Heights in San Antonio to be near her family living there.
A member of an early Beaumont family, she was born on July 27, 1903, in Leesville, Louisiana, the home of her grandmother. Both parents, Charles L. Berly and Georgia Millican Berly, were longtime Texans. In January 1882, at the age of two years, her father had come with his parents from north Louisiana to Beaumont, where their relatives, the Carrolls and the Longs, had become pioneers of the regional lumber industry. Her mother moved from Louisiana at the time of her marriage, in 1902, but Texas was her birthplace.
Ms. Berly’s early education was obtained at Millard Elementary and Beaumont High School, from which she graduated in 1919. In 1923 she received the B.A. degree from Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia, and in 1941, the M.A. degree in English from Southern Methodist University. Her major field was the English Renaissance and Shakespeare, and in this area she attended lectures and plays by eminent scholars and actors in Canada, under the direction of McMaster University. Travel in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, South America, Mexico and Europe also served educationally.
Her early years of teaching were at Beaumont High School, where for ten years she was faculty advisor to the senior class. Six of her years there, she was also faculty director of the school yearbook, the Pine Burr, which one year was awarded All-American rating. In 1930 and 1940, before and after the yearbook work, BHS students dedicated the Pine Burr to her.
In 1945, she was appointed to the faculty of the University of Southwestern Louisiana as an assistant professor. Two years later she joined the English Department faculty at Lamar, where she was promoted successively in academic rank from assistant professor to associate, and then to a full-professorship in English.
She retired in 1969 but returned to Lamar for two years (1981 - 1983) to serve as the first curator of the new Special Collections unit in Mary and John Gray Library. At the time of her retirement in 1969, she was selected by the Association of Women Students at Lamar to receive their new “Outstanding Faculty Woman” award of the year.
In 1964, when the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth was celebrated throughout the world, she and her students planned and directed the Lamar Shakespeare Festival, a two-month campus and community celebration that involved faculty, students, and an eminent British guest lecturer, B. Iden Payne, in special programs on Shakespeare.
In the several years when women’s national Greek letter college social sororities were seeking to establish chapters at Lamar, Ms. Berly served on the Dean’s committee. A member of Alpha Omicron Pi, she has served as the second president of the Beaumont Panhellenic Organization in the 1920's.
Through the years she served her church in many ways. In her youth (1911) she had been baptized at the chancel rail of First Methodist Church (the old Dome Church), Beaumont, and became a lifelong active member. She taught in the church school, and for some years she served as chairman of the library committee of Mills Memorial Library, was a member of the Commission on Education, and a member of the Administrative Board. Active in the United Methodist Women, she served as recording secretary for two years and as a circle teacher for many years.
In November 1987, a second volume of the church history, which she directed and edited, was published. Entitled With a Dome More Vast (1968 - 1985), it won the United Methodist Historical Society’s “Kate Warnick Award” for excellence and as the most outstanding history book produced in 1987 by the larger Methodist churches in Texas. The book was written entirely by members of the church, with the editor’s direction.
In recognition of unselfish service to her church, she was chosen in 1987 by the Alpha Omega class to receive their distinguished “Second-Mile Award.”
She was also active as a volunteer in community services. She was a founding member in 1964 and became a permanent director of the Texas Gulf Historical Society, a regional organization for historical preservation through the written word. Throughout the years she was a member of the official board, and for twelve years served as editor of the annual publication, The Texas Gulf Historical & Biographical Record. In honor of her service, the Society created in 1991 the “Charlsie E. Berly Award,” which will be presented annually for the best contribution to “The Record.” In 1995, the official board named her “Editor Emeritus,” and the newly compiled Index to “The Record” was dedicated to her.
She was a member of the Colonel George Moffett Chapter, DAR, for whom she served as USA Bicentennial chairman for two years, and for many years in several other offices.
She was also a member of the Beaumont Heritage Society, Tyrrell Historical Library Association, the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, the Beaumont Music Commission, the Beaumont Club, the Tower Club and others.
During her teaching years she was a member of the Shakespeare Association of America and the Renaissance Society of America.
Surviving her are her sister, Carroll Berly Gorham, formerly of this city and now of San Antonio; two nephews, Edwin L. Gorham, III and his wife, Ladell Gorham, of Houston, and Charles Berly Gorham and his wife, Cecile Gorham, of San Antonio; a great-niece, Amy Gorham Case and her husband, Charles L. Case, of San Antonio; five great-nephews, Edwin L. Gorham, IV and his wife, Patricia, and daughter Abigail, of Houston; Ashley Gorham and his wife, Eliza, of Amarillo; Andrew Thompson “Tom” Gorham of Austin, and Nicholas Gorham and Maxwell Gorham of San Antonio.
Surviving her also may be some of the many students of this region that she taught during her forty-seven year career in Beaumont High School, the University of Southwestern Louisiana, and Lamar University. They were her challenge and her inspiration, sharing with her two beloved nephews, Edwin and Charles Gorham and their families a special place in her heart.
She was predeceased by her precious parents, and by two beloved brothers and their wives: George C. Berly and Frances Henderson Berly of Houston; Clyde Jerome “Jerry” Berly and Lela Coe Berly, and Di Vernon McFaddin Berly, all of this city.
Memorial contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church, 701 Calder, Beaumont, Texas 77701.