Mike had been fighting cancer for two years. He will be dearly missed by his family, a multitude of friends and the community of Ocean Beach, to which he dedicated himself for more than 30 years.
Mike is survived by his mother, Eileen Berrill; wife, Sue Berrill; children Mike, Kristie and Amanda; daughter-in-law, Jenny; and grandchildren Riling and Olivia Berrill.
Mike grew up in La Mesa and graduated from Saint Augustine High School and the University of San Diego with a master’s degree in education. He was proud of his 30-year career as a special-education teacher at Santana High School in Santee and left his imprint on the lives of those he taught.
In the early 1980s, Berrill became an active member in the Ocean Beach community that continued to his final days. He served as president of the Ocean Beach Community Town Council and helped develop many OB traditions that have continued over the years. The OB Christmas Parade, the OB Pier Pancake Breakfast and the Surfrider Clean Water Paddle were among his favorite projects to improve Ocean Beach.
Mike is probably best known as the major co-founder of the popular Ocean Beach Geriatric Surf Club & Precision Marching Surfboard Drill Team and Gidget Patrol. Known by club members as “Unca Mikey,” he would lead the crazy antics of old-time surfers down parade routes of cities all over the country.
This crowd-pleasing group entertained at major sporting events, along with big names like The Beach Boys, and was always faithful to the OB Christmas Parade over the years.
Mike was passionate about the ocean. Surfing was the favorite pastime. His love of surfing and the friendships he made on the water stayed with him his whole life.
Along with his dad, Clem Berrill, Mike also became an experienced sailor, notching many races over the years. In recent times, Mike developed an interest in outrigger canoe paddling and helped establish the Kanaka Outrigger Canoe Club.
Mike’s children will be his testimony and carry on his philosophy of life.
“Being a special-education teacher, our dad developed patience,” reads a family statement released by Mike’s children. “He was always friendly to strangers and never shy to strike up a conversation. To say our dad was ‘well liked’ was a huge understatement. Our dad never placed too much importance on winning or losing. The fun of the game and being a good sport was more important to him. His attitude was always based on practicality, including his famous phrase, ‘If you pack it, you carry it.’ His financial approach, ‘tight and frugal,’ helped us to become financially responsible adults.”
The Kanaka Outrigger Canoe Club will hold an open celebration of life and a Hawaiian blessing for Mike Berrill on Saturday, July 21 at 10 a.m. at the north end of Liberty Station next to the Corvette Diner.