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A life of volunteering
Karla Berry's community service spans two counties
Karla Berry Community Connections
Karla Berry, Susank, spends a moment with her Irish wolfhound, Huntley."He's big, but he's really just a gentle giant," she said.
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As long as I'm able to do it, there's no scaling back. I just enjoy it too much.
Karla Berry

SUSANK — These days, Karla Berry’s days are full. She basically retired in 2021, but as she will tell you, that’s when the work really began.

“People will call and ask me to help with something, and because I’m retired, they will say ‘Oh, now that you’re retired, you have time to do this,’” she said. “They don’t take into consideration how much of my time is already spent.”

Berry spreads her volunteerism over both Russell and Barton counties as a board member of the Kans for Kids Fighting Cancer Foundation and vice president of the Hoisington Historical Society in Hoisington, alternating with secretary of the Russell County Historical Society and board member of Russell County Economic Development and Visitors and Convention Bureau in Russell, for a start.

“Obviously, I love to volunteer. Otherwise, I do stain glass, counted cross-stitch and needlepoint, reading about history and growing flowers and yard work in the summer,” she noted. 

Her farmstead on Stickney Road six miles north of Susank is a convenient midpoint between the two communities, where she also looks after her three dogs and a house cat.

“My roots are here in this area,” Berry noted. “I hope my volunteering and input in some way contributes to the area and organizations moving forward and growing.”



Karla Peel Berry was born in Great Bend and raised between Great Bend and Hoisington.

She attended school in Hoisington, graduating from Hoisington High School in 1975. She also attended Fort Hays State University.

She married her husband Richard in 1978 and they began farming.

Outside of the farmstead, she worked several jobs in succession in Hoisington: at Hoisington Veterinary Hospital for 13 years, Hoisington Recreation Commission for a year before landing at Clara Barton Hospital as a volunteer to spend time with the swing bed patients. After a few months, she went to work full time in the clinic.

Her connections to Russell began in 2006, when she and a friend opened the Sportsman Corner, which she ran until 2016. 

After that, she worked at Town and Country Animal Hospital until her retirement.

In the meantime, she and her husband began the Wheatbelt Gun Club at their farm, which they ran until his death in 1995. She reopened it in 2007 and then ran it until closing in 2016.


Berry has been a volunteer for the Clara Barton Hospital Foundation for 25 years, working with the Foundation’s annual benefit auction.

“We have a fantastic facility and I want to help keep it there,” she said.

Last November, the Russell County Historical Society released a book titled “A Hundred Years of Oil in Russell County.” 

She gained a new perspective about printing and publishing while working on the book. “There’s a lot more to it than people realize,” she said. “It’s a lot of work just getting things together.”

When she is not at a board meeting somewhere, she attends Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Hoisington, where she serves on the altar guild. She also helps serve funeral dinners and prepares personal care kits for Lutheran World Relief.

In her off time (when she has some) she adds to her Nativity scene collection, for which she has a passion.

“Everybody has a passion for something, and Nativity scenes are mine,” she said.

As to her busy schedule, she enjoys the time spent with each of her many groups.

“I’m really not looking to scale back anytime soon,” she said. “As long as I’m able to do it, there’s no scaling back. I just enjoy it too much.” 

The Great Bend Tribune welcomes readers to submit names of individuals they would like to see featured in a future story. Send suggestions to news@gbtribune. com and explain their “community connection.”