Angelina County flags were placed at half-staff following the death of Joe Berry, who served the longest tenure as county judge in Angelina County’s history.

Berry served as judge for 16 years before retiring — hundreds attended his last meeting to say goodbye and thank him for his years of service.

“He did a tremendous job for our county,” said former County Judge Wes Suiter, who replaced Berry. “He was a great guy and an asset for this county.”

Berry began as a Lufkin police officer, then ran for Precint 1 county commissioner in 1980, where he served until 1987. After that, he traveled the state serving as a liaison with the Texas Association of Counties before coming back to run for judge in 1990.

Ed Jones, a previous county attorney, has known Berry since they both first ran for office in 1980, he said.

“One thing about Joe is that if he told you something, you could count on it,” Jones said.

He thought Joe was a great moderator — especially in the commissioners court, a sentiment shared by the late Gerald Goodwin, he said. Jones and Berry stayed in touch after Berry’s retirement, occasionally going for hamburgers at the Angelina County Airport.

“Some folks’ kind of approach (to the court) is divisive,” he said. “But Joe was a consensus builder.”

“He’s going to be missed,” Suiter said. “He was a great guy all around. Everyone will miss him.”

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