The Berley family mourns the passing of Dr. Ferdinand V. Berley, 100, who passed away suddenly June 17, 2013, from a brief illness. Dr. Berley was born on September 9, 1912 and raised in typical fashion on the west side of Chicago, IL. Upon graduating from high school, he was accepted into Northwestern University, receiving a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) scholarship. After graduation from college, he was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy and also accepted to Northwestern University Medical School. With medical school completed, the Navy assigned Dr. Berley as the division medical officer for Destroyer Division 58, part of the Asiatic Fleet. In 1940, he was transferred to the 4th Marine Regiment Hospital in Shanghai, China, and later transferred to a Navy dispensary in Caviti in the Philippines. He then rejoined the 4th Marine Regiment as a battalion surgeon. On May 7, 1942, following the surrender of Corregidor, Dr. Berley, along with thousands of other service members, was captured by the Japanese and became a Prisoner of War.
He spent nearly three and a half years in various prison camps throughout the Philippines and Japan including the infamous Billibid Prison in downtown Manila as well as Cabanatuan prison camp north of Manila. In 1944, Dr. Berley survived the horrible conditions aboard an unmarked Japanese transport ship, commonly known as a “Death Ship”. He was taken to Ichioka Stadium hospital near Osaka, Japan where he and other captured doctors did their best to treat their fellow POWs with the meager medical supplies they were given by their captors. His story of captivity, and the stories of three of his fellow prisoner doctors, was recently documented in the non-fiction novel “Courage Under Fire: Four American Doctors and Their Fight for Life as Prisoners of the Japanese, 1941 - 1945” written by Mr. John Glusman, the son of Dr. Murray Glusman, one of the prisoner doctors. Dr. Berley was liberated from Kobe prison camp in September 1945. Their story of extreme hardship at the hands of their Japanese captors is also recorded in the DVD “Guests of the Emperor” produced by Mr. Jan Herman of the Naval Medical Education and Training Command. For his heroic actions as a Navy medical officer during World War II, Dr. Berley was awarded four Bronze Star medals (with combat distinguishing device), the Purple Heart and the Prisoner of War medals.
Upon his return to the United States, Dr. Berley fell in love and married Camille Pascale, also of Chicago. They were assigned to Bethesda Naval Hospital near Washington, DC where he was assigned Senator Joseph McCarthy as a patient. In 1955, he was assigned as the Chief of Surgery, Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Florida. He retired from the Navy in 1959. Upon his retirement, he was meritoriously promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral (Upper Half).
During their assignment here in Jacksonville, Dr. Berley and Camille had fallen in love with the city and decided it was the perfect permanent home in which to raise their growing family. He opened a private practice associated with Baptist Hospital as a general surgeon specializing in thoracic surgery and the treatment of varicose veins. His talent and reputation as a surgeon quickly grew distinguishing him as one of the premier surgeons in the area. Many of his patients are still alive today because of his skill and determination. Dr. Berley also volunteered for 25 years as the Medical Director for the All Saints Nursing Home while located in Riverside. He later focused his practice on modern techniques for treating varicose veins, becoming a leading pioneer in that field. He retired from private practice in 1990 after 51 years in the medical field.
Dr. Berley was a faithful member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church for 53 years. He and Camille devote much time and resources in support of this growing parish. He was recognized for his extraordinary volunteer work and support of the Catholic Church here in Jacksonville which included the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal from Pope Paul VI and attaining the rank of Knight of the Grand Cross in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
After his retirement he enjoyed playing golf with his close friends and traveling back and forth to his beloved South Carolina “farm” where he hunted, fished, and enjoyed gardening.
In addition to his wife Camille, his loving, caring and devoted bride of 67 years, he is survived by his children: Robert and June Berley, Victoria and William Payne, Jr., Fred and Sherri Berley, John Berley and Sian Winship, and Dr. Joseph and Teresa Berley. His grandchildren include: Holley, Jennifer, and Robert Berley, Nicole and Brad Siefert, Catherine and Stephen Marzen, William Payne III, Frederick and Patrick Berley, and Samantha and Thomas Joseph (TJ) Berley. His great grandchildren include Taylor, Kaleigh, and Kristina Berley and Stephen and Claire Mae Marzen. He also leaves behind many loving nieces, nephews, extended family members and close friends. He was pre-deceased by his daughter Carol Angela and granddaughter Christina.
The family will hold a visitation and greet friends at Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home of Mandarin on Thursday, June 20 between 6:00 – 8:00 PM with a rosary service beginning at 6:30 PM.
A funeral mass will be held at 10:30 AM on Friday, June 21 in the historic church at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on Loretto Road in Mandarin. Interment will take place at St. Joseph’s Cemetery, behind and adjacent to the church, immediately following the funeral mass.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Haven Hospice Development Department, 4200 NW 90th Blvd, Gainesville, FL 32606 or call 800-727-1889.
Arrangements are under the care and direction of Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home of Mandarin, 11801 San Jose Blvd. Jacksonville, FL 32223. www.hgmandarin.com (904) 288-0025.