BRUCE Berry, a school lollipop man who gained 11 university degrees, including a PhD, for the pure enjoyment of learning, has died aged 73.
He graduated with his first degree from Manchester University in 1963 then carried on with studies at a host of universities in England and France.
He once said he did it because: “I just get this Faustian thirst for knowledge. I like to keep an open mind – anything which catches my interest, I go for it.”
He was a member of Mensa with an IQ of 161, and also a fluent speaker of Spanish, Italian, French, German, Russian and Japanese. He was a Fellow of the Institute of Linguistics.
Bruce Anthony Berry was brought up in Sharlston, near Wakefield, the only child of Kenneth and Grace Berry who at the time he was born lived in the neighbouring hamlet of Snyder Villas. His father was a school teacher, eventually retiring as headmaster of Calverley Junior School, in Leeds.
Dr Berry was educated at Sharlston Primary School and Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield, before going to Manchester University where he gained a BA in 1963.
He then taught in Walsall for three years but decided it was not what he wanted to do so returned to Yorkshire in 1969. He went to work for the Post Office at their then main centre in City Square, Leeds, where he was on the philately counter, staying until 1979 when he took early retirement. He then became a translator of technical documents for Agfa Gevaert, the film producers, until retirement at 65.
Following his degree from Manchester, studying for his other degrees began in the 1970s and all were done through correspondence via the internet. From 1975 until 2006 he gained BAs from London, MAs from Leeds, York, Bradford, Leeds Metropolitan, and Normandy University in Caen, France, and a PhD from Leeds Metropolitan University. The subjects covered applied translation, culture studies, English literature and French.
Dr Berry lived almost all of his life in Sharlston where he was known by virtually everyone in the village, was well respected and known as a gentlemen who was always polite.
He became later became a lollipop man to help pay for his tuition fees, cycling to work every day from his home in the village.
For four years he had seen children at Crofton Infant School safely across the road, sharing his knowledge with them at the same time, and winning their admiration. He was so well thought of that when he submitted his resignation last summer when becoming ill, and thinking he could not carry on, it was refused and he returned to work for some time.
Teachers at the school tried to establish whether his academic qualifications might be a world record but were told the Guinness Book of Records did not recognise such achievements.
However, he still had some way to go to match Michael Nicholson from Michigan, in the United States of America, who, at the age of 71, has 30 degrees, including 19 masters and one doctorate, and is still studying with the aim of reaching 34.
Since June 2009, Dr Berry had served on Sharlston Parish Council and was passionate about the village and its life. He was also a member of the congregation of St Luke’s Church, in Sharlston, which he had attended for most of his life. Dr Berry never married and did not have any immediate family.