Hanover, NH — David E. Berlew, a retired psychologist and management consultant specializing in organization change, management development, and entrepreneurial behavior, died on September 28, 2022, at his home at Kendal at Hanover in Hanover, NH. He was 91.
David was born in Orono, ME, in 1931 to Lillian (née Kingston) and Herman Berlew. They were both Methodist ministers. After the family moved to New Bedford, MA, when David was 13, he and his older brother Kingston attended the local high school in New Bedford, MA, where David lettered in football. Of his many accomplishments, few gave him as much pride as his induction years later into the New Bedford High School Football Hall of Fame. David started college at Iowa State and eventually graduated from Wesleyan University, but only after two years with the Army in Germany. He married his first wife Diane (née Lehnhardt) in 1956. David went on to obtain a PhD in Organizational Psychology from Harvard University. He taught at both Wesleyan University and the MIT Sloan School of Management. In the mid-1960s, he served tours in Turkey and Ethiopia as country director for the Peace Corps.
In 1968, David started McBer and Company in Boston, a research and consulting firm, with his Harvard mentor David McClelland. Their firm specialized in mapping the competencies of entrepreneurs and managers across the world. This work enabled him to travel all over Europe, Asia and Latin America. Another early member of McBer was Richard Boyatzis, with whom David worked on leveraging McClelland’s work on achievement, affiliation and motivation. David authored and co-authored many books and articles with Warren Bennis, Richard Boyatzis, Douglas Hall, Roger Harrison, David Kolb, Earl Rose, Irwin Ruben, Ed Schein, Fritz Steele and others.
In 1976, David, Roger Harrison and Earl Rose founded the company Situation Management Systems, built around the Positive Power and Influence Program that they created. They worked with many Fortune 500 companies and the US government, licensing programs and trainers all over the world.
David was a mentor and friend to many during his long life. He is remembered by his many friends, colleagues and clients as a person who injected energy into every situation. His laughter and quirky meeting observations are legendary in the many businesses he helped. He was a magnet for emerging consultants and had a significant role in starting many consulting companies. Years later, he served in leadership roles with “Instructional Systems Association,” the professional association of consulting/training companies.
David and Diane hosted many get togethers at their home in Newton, MA. These included Sunday morning touch football games, where he pioneered taping his glasses to his (hairless) head; dinners and holiday parties that featured competitive games of twister and dancing; and poker tournaments. True to David’s Maine origins, he, Diane, and their children vacationed on the Downeast coast with close family friends. These vacations were famous for raucous costume and dinner parties.
After some years of living in Maine with his family, David returned to Massachusetts and eventually settled in Duxbury, MA, with his second wife Jennipher. There they made a beautiful home overlooking Duxbury Bay. These were peak fishing years, when David brought many friends and family members on (mostly) successful outings. He also expanded his fishing interests to include both fresh and saltwater fly fishing. During this time David also reconnected with old university friends like Jack Hoy. In addition to fishing, David loved following New England sports teams and was often seen at Celtics games in the original Garden with his old friend and colleague Dan Ciampa.
After retiring, David eventually moved to New Hampshire, where he enjoyed writing stories, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and long walks with his third wife Meryl and later with his good friend Joan.
David is survived by his first wife Diane Berlew; his children Christopher Berlew (Linda) of Washington, DC; Katherine Berlew Santopadre (Kevin) of Round Rock, TX; Lucinda Berlew (Christopher) of Houston, TX; Michele Berlew of Houston, TX; and Adam Berlew (Janesta) of Redwood City, CA; as well as seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. His second wife Jennipher Mills and good friend Joan Kidder also survive him. Another grandson died in 2019. David was predeceased by his parents Herman (1974) and Lillian (1992), and by older brother Kingston (2021). His third wife Meryl Louis died in 2011.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Kendal at Hanover Emergency Staff Relief Fund at: