Russ Berrie Russell Berrie, a maker of plush animals, toys and gifts who used his considerable wealth to advance health care and support religious and cultural groups, died on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2002 in Englewood, N.J., where he lived. He was 69. The cause was heart failure, the company said.
Mr. Berrie was chief executive and chairman of Russ Berrie & Company in Oakland, N.J., a business he started in a rented garage in 1963. It is one of the world's largest gift companies with more than 1,500 employees in the United States and other countries.
In 2001, Russ Berrie had sales of $294.3 million and net income of $40.2 million, selling items like a stuffed dog named Muffin and a stuffed bear known as Honeyfritz. Last summer it paid $45 million for Sassy Inc. of Grand Rapids, Mich., a company that makes toys for babies.
In 1998, Fortune magazine called Mr. Berrie one of the 40 most generous Americans. He gave large sums to charities through the Russell Berrie Foundation, which he founded in the mid-1980's. Beneficiaries of his philanthropy included the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in Manhattan; the Russ Berrie Home for Senior Living, also known as the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, N.J.; the Berrie Center for Humanistic Care at Englewood Hospital; the Sister Patricia Lynch Regional Cancer Care Center at the Russell and Angelica Berrie Medical Pavilion in Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, N.J.; the Center for Inter-religious Understanding in Secaucus, N.J.; and the Performing Arts Center at Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J.
His largess also made possible the founding this month of the School of Professional Salesmanship at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J.
In 1996, he set up an award, the Russ Berrie Prize for Making a Difference, to honor New Jersey residents for uncommon heroism and community service.
A native of New York City, Mr. Berrie grew up in the Bronx and attended New York University and the University of Florida at Gainesville.
He is survived by his fourth wife, the former Angelica Urra; four sons, Brett, Richard, Scott and David; two daughters, Leslie and Nicole; two grandchildren; and two brothers, Murray and Wally. 
- Pace, Eric. "Russell Berrie, 69, Founder Of a Toy and Gift Company". Obit. NY Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/27/business/russell-berrie-69-founder-of-a-toy-and-gift-company.html. Retrieved 12/30/2014.