Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 16, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PANETTA. Madam Speaker, I rise today to remember and honor the life of Mr. Billy F. DeBerry, who passed away on September 17, 2022. A local legend and inspiration to our community, Mr. DeBerry's life and enduring contributions made a positive impact to many of my constituents across the Monterey Peninsula. Born on February 7, 1939, in Denmark, Tennessee, Mr. DeBerry spent most of his life in Seaside, California. While working at Alabama State College, Mr. DeBerry and his wife were recruited by Mr. Charlie Knight, marking the beginning of a 32-year-long, influential career with the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District.

Mr. DeBerry's prolific career with Monterey Peninsula Unified School District began when he was hired as a professional school counselor for Martin Luther King, Jr. High School in 1968. Two years later, he was promoted to Assistant Principal at Monterey High School, and four years later, he was promoted to Principal. In 1987, Billy joined the Central Office of MPUSD as Director of Personnel and Assistant Superintendent of Personnel. In 1991, he was promoted to Associate Superintendent and would eventually become Superintendent of Schools in 1994. It was this position that Mr. DeBerry would hold until his retirement in 2000.

Throughout Billy's career, he exemplified high standards of integrity, discipline, inclusiveness, and most importantly, compassion. Most notably, Mr. DeBerry worked diligently and tirelessly to become the first and only African American Superintendent of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District.

These high standards extended beyond his role as Superintendent. Mr. DeBerry worked to lift up the Central Coast through his important and influential positions on the Advisory Board for California State University Monterey Bay Institute for Community Collaborative Studies, the City of Seaside's Mayor's Advisory Committee on Government Efficiency, the Citizens Advisory Committee to the Community Development Program, the Monterey County Civil Grand Jury, the Monterey County Equal Opportunity Advisory Commission, the Monterey County Sheriff's Office Commission, and the Monterey County Economic Development Commission.

Madam Speaker, Mr. Billy DeBerry was the type of dedicated community member, leader, and educator we should all strive to be. His legacy is a shining example and inspiration to us all to become more involved in our communities. It is therefore fitting and proper that we honor him here today.