In 1964, Garth David Berky was adopted by an unknown family and was immediately whisked away, never getting to know his birth family. After 49 years, Berky arrived in Cherokee and was united with the Cucumber family, his birth family, for the first time.
His birth name was David Cucumber, and he was the youngest of ten children born to Dorothy and Joe Cucumber of the Wolfetown community. He was raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Berky’s brother and sisters in Cherokee are Donald Cucumber, Pam Cucumber, Sandy Cucumber and Erma McMillan.
In 2001, Dorothy, the mother, told her children that she and their father had given their youngest child up for adoption in 1964. Erma McMillan, one of the daughters, explained that this was not an easy decision for her parents to make. They had to search their hearts and scripture for help in order ”to save him from a poverty stricken life,” McMillan explained. The mother wanted them to know this in the event that he should come looking for his birth family.
At the time of her death in 2003, a hair sample and DNA were taken from the mother to ensure the identification of the son.
In November 2012, Sharon Berky, his wife, contacted Lea Jo Cucumber, niece to the Cucumber family, searching for his birth family. His foster parents had told him that he was adopted and who his birth family was. His wife used Ancestry.com and Facebook to locate the Cucumber family.
The Cucumber family got to view his picture with his family on Facebook for the first time. Sandy Cucumber, one of the daughters, commented, “To see his picture was all we needed to know that he was our brother.”
After the initial contact, the Cucumber family and the Berky family kept in continued communication. On March 16, Berky and his family of 16 traveled from Cedar Falls, Iowa to Cherokee. They arrived in Cherokee on March 17 to meet his sisters and brother. Pam Cucumber, one of the daughters, said, “Thank God for answering our prayer and putting our family together again.”
On March 18, in the fellowship hall at Rock Springs Baptist Church, the Cucumber family proudly introduced their newfound brother to their church and community family. McMillan said, “We want to thank our church families, Rock Springs and Yellowhill, relatives, friends and Cherokee community for making our brother Garth and his Iowa family feel so welcome.”
Berky commented, “The visit here has been enjoyable and everywhere we went, my family was made to feel welcome. It also gave closure to my life and questions I had about where the rest of my family was. I now have a bigger family.”
Sandy stated, “It’s is a great feeling to have a space filled in my heart. I don’t have to wonder anymore about where he is, how he is doing, or wonder if he was taken care of. I have answers. There is peace. I have another brother.”
On March 21, the Berky family said their farewells to the Cucumber family with promises of future times together. Sandy stated, “It’s not done yet. It’s awesome.”
The Cucumber family thanks God for bringing their brother, Garth, home to Cherokee.