Friday, January 4, 2013

Jack Barry - Visionary Voice 1925 - 2012

We at HCPC are grieving the loss of one of the visionaries who founded the organization to prevent further damming of the Snake River back in the mid-60s. Jack Barry passed away on Christmas evening following a lovely dinner with family and friends.  We are going to sorely miss his keen insight and wit. 

The obituary below was written by his wife Lois Barry:

John E. (Jack) Barry was born in Boston, 5 March 1925 to Gertrude French Barry and Walter J. Barry. He died suddenly at home on December 25.   During WW II he proudly served in General Patton’s 3rd Army, fighting through France, Germany and Austria til the war’s end. After graduating from Middlebury College, with the remainder of his GI Bill, he enrolled at the University of Innsbruck, Austria where he studied math but “majored in skiing.” Inspired by Richard Halliburton’s Royal Road to Romance, Jack became a life-long adventure traveler. During one spring break he and two friends rode their 3-speed bikes from Innsbruck, to Cairo, Egypt where he climbed the Great Pyramid at Cheops.

Reluctant to leave Europe, Jack worked in Heidelberg, Germany for the U.S. Army Education program, where he met Lois Andrews. They married in Heidelberg in 1953. After their return to the U.S., Jack worked on jet engine noise suppression at Boeing in Seattle, experimental engine programs for Beech Aircraft in Boulder, the earliest satellite communication systems for Telecomputing in Alamogordo and Philco in Palo Alto, and nuclear reactor testing for Phillips outside of Idaho Falls, Idaho where Jack and a small group of fellow scientists  formed the Hells Canyon Preservation Council in 1967 to prevent construction of further dams on the Snake River.

In 1967, never a “company man,” Jack decided to leave industry. With teaching certificates, he and Lois searched the Pacific Northwest for a perfect spot to raise their children. For a poor kid who grew up selling papers on the streets of Boston, purchasing 150 acres on the Morgan Lake Road in La Grande was a dream come true. The family immediately acquired two horses, a pony, three pigs, two steers and a hundred chickens. Soon Jack was active in successful efforts to prevent old-growth logging on the Minam and a proposed dam on Catherine Creek. Eventually Jack purchased and preserved 1,000 beautiful forested acres in Oregon.

After teaching science and math in local schools, it was time for adventure. In 1972, Jack and Lois packed up the family for two years of teaching at the American School in Tehran, Iran. As chair of the math department, Jack arranged for school buses to take students to the opera, “an important part of students’ education.” Ever a gypsy, he drove the family’s VW bus 5,000 miles in the Middle East where they camped out in Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and Pakistan, then drove and camped from Tehran to Copenhagen and back to Amsterdam for their return to the U.S.

While they were in Iran, a forest fire burned the family home. Using a quick sketch on a piece of notebook paper, Jack and his sons built a new house on the Morgan Lake Road. His mantras, depending on the situation, were “Everything is Transcendental” and “Attitude is Everything.”

Jack never made a reservation, often picking locations because their names (like Krk and Ybbs) interested him. He and Lois enjoyed camping all over the Western United States and Canada, and travels to Nepal, Bali, Egypt, Mexico, Chile, Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia, as well as frequent trips to visit friends in Europe. They also visited Newfoundland where his mother’s home place at French’s Cove is now a national historic site. There he was pleased to learn that he might be descended from pirates, which explained his love of "messing about in boats."

Jack is survived by his wife, Lois, his daughter, Kimberley Barry (Ashland), sons Brian Barry (Bend) and Peter Barry (Joseph), and his very special grandson, Kai Barry (Bend). Jack was a man of strong and consistent opinions. A committed environmentalist and unapologetic Democrat, he liked “old stuff,” especially books, and was ever curious and alive to the world. He never met a dog he didn’t like and --like Mark Twain -- looked forward to meeting his dogs (22 who adopted him over a lifetime) in their heaven. His legacy, joy in the moment and love of the natural world, is shared by his family and friends. A celebration of Jack’s life will be held in mid-June when the wild-flowers are in bloom on the Morgan Lake Road.

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