Politicians reacted this week to the death of Stanislaus County Supervisor and former state legislator Tom Berryhill, who passed away Saturday just two days after his 67th birthday.
Berryhill was elected to the District 4 Board of Supervisors seat in November 2018 after 12 years of service in the state legislature. The Republican politician formerly represented the 8th District in the California Senate and also served in the state assembly. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2018.
A Stanislaus County press release said that the loss of Berryhill left “his family and elected colleagues with heavy hearts.”
“Tom Berryhill has been a dedicated servant his entire life,” District 2 Supervisor Vito Chiesa said. “Both in Stanislaus County and at the state level, Berryhill lived to serve. My heart goes out to his wife Loretta and the family at this difficult time.”
During his state legislative tenure, Berryhill served on the Utilities and Commerce Committee, Parks Committee and the Water and Wildlife Committees. He also served as Vice Chair of the Agriculture Committee, Government Organizations, Human Services and Senate Rules Committees.
As a Stanislaus County Supervisor, Berryhill’s committee service included Capital Facilities, City-County 10th Street JPA Commissions, Commission on Aging, Solid Waste-to-Energy Executive Committee and Financing Agency, service on the Stanislaus County Workforce Development Board and the Tuolumne River Regional Park Committee.
Along with the entire Board of Supervisors, other local legislators shared their condolences upon hearing the news on Saturday.
“It’s always heartbreaking to lose a member of our community – especially someone like Tom who spent so much of his life working to make the Valley a better place to live,” Rep. Josh Harder said in a statement. “Pam and I send our deepest condolences to his wife, children, and his entire family.”
Sen. Andreas Borgeas succeeded Berryhill in representing the 8th Senate District and remembered the late politician as a “giant.”
“Tom Berryhill led a dedicated life of service to his community both in the California Legislature and the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors," Borgeas said. "Tom was my mentor and imparted the importance of respect, civility and collegiality in California politics. My wife Anna and I would like to express our deepest condolences to the Berryhill family as they endure this difficult time."
Berryhill was born in Ceres and raised his family in the local community. He was known as a strong supporter of the California public school system and state universities, and upon graduating from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, he returned to the region to work at improving the area for future generations.
“The somber news of Tom Berryhill’s passing should cause all of us to take a moment and reflect on his lifetime of public service to our Central Valley. As former State Senator, former State Assemblymember and Stanislaus County Supervisor he was a champion for our agriculture-based economy and our local water rights,” Assemblyman Heath Flora said. “He served the people and place he loved most of all, his home.”
Under California law, Gov. Gavin Newsom will appoint a new District 4 Supervisor to replace Berryhill — a process Chiesa anticipates could take as long as 60 days. District 4 consists of a majority of Modesto, Del Rio and a small portion of Ceres.
“There are a lot of good people in that district for him to choose from,” Chiesa said.