William D. Berry was born on May 20, 1926, in San Mateo, California. During World War II, he served in the army, working part of the time as a cartoonist for “Stars and Stripes,” the U.S. military's independent newspaper. After the war, he attended the School of Allied Arts in Glendale, California. He also studied at the Art Center of Los Angeles, Glendale Junior College and the University of Alaska.
Berry worked for several years as a curator at the California Junior Museum in Sacramento, California. He also worked for Disneyland. He was especially interested in creating wildlife drawings and was commissioned to create paintings, illustrations and murals. After visiting Alaska, he and his wife, Elizabeth, became more interested in the state and its wildlife. Berry lived there for several years, returning to California in 1959. In 1961, the family returned to Alaska, living in Denali Lakes until moving to Fairbanks in 1965. Berry taught drawing classes at the Tanana Valley Community College. He was working on a mural for the children’s room in the Noel Wien Public Library in Fairbanks, but died in 1979 before it was completed. The mural, An Alaskan Fairytale, was completed by the illustrator Trina Schart Hyman. The children’s room subsequently was named the Berry Room in his honor.
Berry wrote several books and also illustrated a number of books for other authors. After his death, his wife published a compilation of the Alaskan field sketches he drew between 1954 and 1956. Berry’s eleven drawings that were accessioned into the Luther College Fine Arts Collection were donated by Elizabeth Berry in 1985. The gift was facilitated by former Art Department faculty member, Dean Schwarz.