Penny Berryman, 62, dies of brain tumor

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Penny Berryman, one of the most successful and beloved women in bass fishing, died Sunday at her home in Hot Springs.

“I have some very sad news,” Kathy Magers told B.A.S.S. Sunday evening. “My longtime friend just lost her battle with the brain tumor.”

“I lost a close, dear friend,” added Texas angler Debra Hengst, reflecting the thoughts of many who knew Berryman, “and the fishing industry lost a major icon and legend of our sport. She will be terribly missed.”

Berryman, 62, fished competitively for nearly 30 years but was forced to the sidelines in 2008, when doctors discovered a tumor growing behind her left eye. She subsequently was diagnosed with meningioma.

A competitive water skier for 15 years, the Arkansas woman began fishing bass tournaments in the early 1980s and soon established herself as one of the best, qualifying for 25 championships in several tournament trails. Her most notable achievements occurred on the Bass’N Gals circuit, as she won the 1992 Classic, 1995 U.S. Invitational and 1997 Angler of the Year honors.

In later years, she earned four Top 10 finishes in the Bassmaster Women’s Tour and was inducted into Bass Pro Shops’ Living Legends of Fishing in 2004.

Additionally, she devoted much time to teaching others in classes and seminars, as well as during tournaments.

“Penny was a mentor and a friend to many young anglers and was an inspiration to even more,” said Georgia pro Pam Martin-Wells. “She was a friend and will be missed greatly.”

“I had the pleasure of fishing with her in a Bass’N Gals tournament on Sam Rayburn in the ’80s,” remembered Tammi Montgomery. “You can imagine how I felt when I found out I was fishing with her.

“We had the best time. She took me under her wing the whole tournament. I have the fondest memories of her. She was a wonderful lady and will be missed.”

Visitation for Berryman will be 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, at the Davis-Smith Funeral Home in Hot Springs. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Friday.

Read Don Barone’s 2008 column about Berryman's struggle with her illness and about being on the sidelines. You can sign Berryman's guestbook here.

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