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The Sports View: Mourning the end of a legend

Sports Writer

Rex Berry makes a pass while playing for the San Francisco 49ers. Berry played for the 49ers for six years before retiring and moving back to Utah in 1956.

Rex Berry, one of the most well known athletes from the Carbon County area, passed away over the holiday weekend at his Provo home at the age of 80.

This is a great loss for anyone who followed Berry's incredible career, especially residents of Carbon County.

Even before going pro, Berry made an impact on the athletics of the local schools he attended, and still makes one today.

Though Berry was born in Moab, he grew up in Helper, where he attended elementary and junior high school.

While attending Helper Junior High, Berry began his athletic career in a variety of sports, including football, basketball and American Legion baseball.

Berry moved on to play at Carbon High School on the football, baseball, basketball and track teams, where he became known as the "Carbon Comet."

Berry was also a pitcher and an outfielder on the state champion Helper American Legion Baseball team in 1940 and 1941.

He pitched the American Legion team to the state championships before moving on to serve his country in World War II when he joined the United States Navy.

After four years of service in the Navy, Berry came back to his home of Carbon County and enrolled at Carbon Junior College, now College of Eastern Utah, for a year, where he continued his athletic career in football and basketball.

Berry then enrolled at BYU, where with the same hard work and determination that propelled him during junior high and high school, was awarded all-conference honors in football his junior and senior year.

Carbon High's 1942 team look at their toy football in celebration. Pictured above from left to right are co-captains Bob Gornichec, and Bob Brady, Coach Jackson Jewks, Gene Pace and Rex Berry. Berry went on to become one of the most famous athletes from Carbon County, playing for the San Francisco 49ers from 1951-1956.

Berry played three seasons with the Cougars before graduating from BYU in 1951 with a bachelors degree in education.

Berry was then drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 14th round of the 1950 NFL draft.

Berry played an incredible six seasons for the 49ers, where he recorded 22 pass interceptions, three for touchdowns. Both became records until they were sadly broken by Ronnie Lott in the 1980s.

Berry was an all-pro defensive back, and played as the team captain for his last two seasons on the team.

This obviously wasn't the first time he held the position of team captain. Berry had the honor of serving as team captain or co-captain for every football team he played on.

After hanging up his jersey in 1956, Berry returned to his home state of Utah.

After retiring from the NFL, Berry took a job as a chemical salesman for U.S. Steel, but still received plenty of attention for his talent.

Berry was quickly inducted into the BYU Sports Hall of Fame, the Utah State Sports Hall of Fame and was one of the original inductees into the CEU Sports Hall of Fame.

Over forty years after retiring from the NFL, Berry was named number 37 in a list of 100 of Utah's greatest athletes of the 21st century.

In celebration of Berry, Helper, Berry's hometown, observed "Rex Berry Day" in 1989 and the Carbon School District named Helper Junior High's football field "Rex Berry Field."

After this, Berry went on to annually recognize the outstanding male and female scholar-athlete of the school.

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