Leo Earl Berkey, who helped build and remodel homes for such notables as comedienne Fanny Brice and the late President Eisenhower in a construction career spanning more than 65 years, died Sunday in his sleep at his Arlington home. He was 89.
Mr. Berkey was born of Pennsylvania Dutch parents in Somerset County, Pa. He later moved to the north shore of Long Island, N.Y., where he started his company.
During the 1920s, Mr. Berkey, who was known as "L.E.," built numerous mansions and schools.
Mr. Berkey came to his area in the early 1940s, and worked for the Charles Tompkins Co., where he became a project manager, and for the Atlantic States Construction Corp. Mr. Berkey was executive vice president of the latter company until his retirement in 1964. He continued to work on occasional projects for several more years.
Among the projects in this area Mr. Berkey supervised or contributed to were the construction of the East Wing of the White House, which was finished during the Truman administration, and several major buildings at American University. He also worked on the restoration of the Blair-Lee and Blair houses. St. John's Episcopal Church and the Eisenhower farm in Gettysburg.
A member of the Arlington Historical Society, Mr. Berkey also supervised the conversion of the Hume School into a museum for the society.
Mr. Berkey was a longtime member of the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington and served as elder and deacon there. He was also the first president of the church's men's club.
He is survived by his wife. Emeline B., of the home: two brothers, Harold R., of Harrisonburg, Va., and Millard R., of Johnstown, Pa.; three sisters, Bertha Greene and Mary Berkey, both of Johnstown, and Margaret Naugle, of Jackson, Mich.; one grandchild and two great-grandchildren.
The family suggests that contributions may be made to the building fund or the cardiac unit of Arlington Hospital, or to the L. E. Berkey Memorial Fund at the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington.