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John Barry

John Barney Barry

Three tributes presented at the memorial service by Gary Barry, Don Barry, and Earl Marks.

John Barry’s Life
(as presented by Gary Barry)

John was born on April 10, 1908 in Chicago, Illinois. His parents, David, age 21 and Minnie, age 20 were immigrants from Romania. He had one brother, David and one sister, Dolly.

He grew up having only his mother as a parent. At about 12 years of age his mother and the three children moved to Los Angeles. He talked many times about the long train ride. His mother took in washing and ironing, and later used her skills as a custom tailor to support her family. He quit school around the ninth grade and eventually took a job with the Payne Furnace and Supply Co., rising in the trade to manager of the Long Beach Branch in the late 30s.

In 1931, he met Johanna deVries, now known by many of you as either Joan or Anna. He called her Ann. They were married on August 10, 1934. He went to night school and graduated from high school following their marriage.

In 1936, their first son Gary was born. In 1937, John built the first house they owned on 104th Street in Los Angeles. Second son, Don, arrived in 1941.

During W.W. II, John worked at Northrop Aircraft and owned, along with a partner, a machine shop business. One interesting aspect of the business was the manufacture of cardboard coat hangers. Wire was not available to make hangers, so he and his partner acquired an old printing press and modified it to punch out cardboard coat hangers. Later on, he invented and built a machine that converted a roll of wire into finished wire hangers at a rate of 2200 an hour, three times faster than existing commercial machines.

Following W.W. II, John worked in the orchard wind-machine business and owned a safe manufacturing company. He invented a re-locking device that made it impossible to break into the safe. Around 1962, he was employed by the L.A. Unified School District, back in heating and air conditioning. He retired 11 years later as an inspector.

In his late 50s, John was befriended by Pastor Walter Lepp. John accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior as a result of this relationship. This was a major change in his life.

John designed and built their second house and they moved in during July of 1965. A source of enjoyment for them was taking trips to many places with their trailer attached to their car.

Early in 2000, it was confirmed that John had cancer and that they needed to move to a facility providing care. After a review of nine facilities, The Kensington was selected and they moved here in March 2000. John was called home February 23, 2001. He leaves his wife Joan, sons Gary and Don, grandchildren Todd, Tami, Sonya and Leasha and niece Evelyn.

Tribute to John Barry
(as presented by Don Barry)

Thank you all for coming.

We are here to honor John Barry; to remember him, and how he affected each one of our lives.

I am his son, Don Barry.

In my earliest memories, Dad was in his mid 30’s. He worked very long hours to provide our family with a home he had built, food, warmth and security. Sixty years later, he still provided the same for our mother.

He was a man who showed his love through action. He did things for people. He repaired almost anything. He built new machines or whatever gizmo a friend or relative needed. He repaired cars. He probably repaired or built something for you, your family or your church.

Dad was honest, tough and extremely stubborn. He did things his way to the very end – even extending the end by as much as a year to make sure that mom was secure in their new home here at The Kensington.

In his 30’s, some referred to Dad as the “Bull of the Woods.” He had a reputation. He ran things his way.

As he grew older, he grew wiser – the mark of an intelligent person.

He became a Christian in his late 50’s. He mellowed. Note that I did not say he became mellow – just that he mellowed relative to his earlier years.

Before he became a Christian, Dad and I talked about God. Dad believed in God. He accepted the Ten Commandments as a guide for a relationship with God and with people. Christianity brought him an understanding of how God related to people and how a person could relate to God.

Dad read his Bible. I did not realize how much, until I opened his Bible a few days ago.

Dad used his Bible as a help to deal with his problems. I discovered that he re-wrote verses, supplying new words which better conveyed their meaning to him.

When it was suggested that I read something appropriate for this memorial, I saw in a set of Bible passages he had listed in writing and in his revised versions of those passages how Dad had appropriated the Bible to help himself through life.

What better way to remember Dad than to read some scripture he adhered to in everyday living. If you knew Dad, you will remember that he did not worry about anything. He was not a nervous person. He was strong and confident. Mom has often said that he would fall asleep the instant his head hit the pillow, Perhaps reading what he selected and interpreted for himself will help us to understand where his assuredness came from.

Deuteronomy 6:5—You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your might.

Psalm 46:10—Be still (stop striving) and know that I am God.

Philippians 4:6,7—Don’t be anxious about anything. Instead give thanks and cry out your requests in prayer making them known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:13—I can do all things through God who strengthens me.

Matthew 6:25—Do not be anxious (don’t worry) for your life or about what you are going to eat or drink, or about clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?

I Peter 5:7—Cast all your anxiety (your worries) upon God, because God cares for you.

Psalm 118:24—This is the day which God has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Tribute to John Barry
(as presented by Earl Marks)

I wish to present a tribute to the long life of John Barry. His parents came to America from Europe in the first decade of the 20th century. John, like many of us in this room, was an immigrant’s kid. He moved from the Midwest to the land of Canaan and most of his formative years were spent in the Los Angeles area.

I do not know the details of how he met a good-looking Dutch girl named Johanna de Vries. Johanna had five Dutch sisters - all of them were easy to look at. Alas, there was only one harassed Dutch boy in that family. The loving mother and stern father were easy to like.

John Barry was quickly sucked into the whirlpool of Dutch and family culture. In spite of the fact that John was painfully lacking a Dutch ethnic origin, Johanna rejected all eligible Dutch boyfriends. She preferred John and his nifty 1930 Nash automobile. After severe scrutiny by the five Dutch sisters, John and Johanna married. This was a remarkable happening because John was an Auslander! (Dutch for non-Dutch). Eyebrows were raised in some quarters. Even more remarkable, in the next few years every one of those five good-looking Dutch sisters married a lower-ranking Auslander.

The family quickly gave John a new name. He was called Barney, definitely not after the bumbling Barney Fife on television, for Anna’s Barney was decisive, solidly opinionated, frugal, and helpful to all. He loved the de Vries family and became happily involved with all family activities, including all the Tantes (Aunts) and Uncles and their energetic Dutch children.

After W.W. II, Barney was the first in the family to get that new device, a television. That early gadget had a small round screen set in a big expensive walnut box. The family descended like a swarm of bees on Barney and Anna’s house to marvel at the flickering black and white image on the round screen. Do any of you recall Cathy Fiscus – the child who fell in a well shaft? This event and the rescue attempts were covered by a T.V. station and the tragedy was dragged out over several days and nights. Many family members were spellbound and refused to go home. Mesmerized by the snail-paced rescue efforts, the patience of Anna and Barney was tested, but family is family and no one was ever told to go home.

Barney was a gifted genius in all things electrical and mechanical. He understood how machinery and electrical devices worked. He loved to repair and maintain motors and cars. At family gatherings, male family members consulted with Barney and recited what was not working at home. Barney always happily dispensed advice. In many cases, Barney would insist on fixing the problem himself. Every member of the family benefited by Barney’s generous and willing assistance in making repairs on washing machines, dryers, heaters, ovens, irons, cars, etc.

For many years, Barney had a ministry of maintaining the building’s heating and air-conditioning plants at his church. He was the locksmith and church electrician. Barney also observed the admonition found in James 1:27 by visiting widows in their distress. He kept a widow’s mobile home in good repair for many years. James called this virtue “pure and undefiled religion.”

Most of you have heard about Tim Allen the T.V. clown who loved tools and continually acquired them, but who was very inept and did not know how to use them. Barney was our beloved “tool man” decades before Tim Allen was born. Barney acquired tools but he was gifted in the proper use of tools. In the trunk of his car reposed two large heavy metal tool boxes containing every tool required to repair any electrical or mechanical failure in any kind of car. It was rumored that in those tool boxes there was a wheel puller, a smoke stack reamer, a dental tooth puller, and a snake.

Barney’s double garage contained hundreds of tools weighing many tons. Each tool was assigned a rank of importance and a special place. Barney knew the location of every tool without the aid of a computer.

Barney was loved by all of the family and especially respected by all of his brothers-in-law. All of us have good memories of this good man, and there is comfort in that fact. I’m reminded that Barney was faithful and committed to his wife, family, and his church. Being committed is almost an oddity in our culture today. He was a devoted church man for decades.

Christians believe that human personality does not die with the body. The strongest tenet of Christian faith is the belief in life after death. Through belief in Jesus, God’s Son, we make a leap of faith to eternal life. What did Jesus say about this matter? In the book of John, chapter 11, verse 25, Jesus said “He who believes in me shall live, even if he dies.” A fully committed Christian is comforted by this promise. Many folks believe that their good works qualify them for a pleasant afterlife, but, again, Jesus said “He who believes in me shall live, even if he dies.” This would be a good time for self-evaluation.

In closing, I wish again to say that the long life of John Barry was a blessing to me and many others. I will miss him, temporarily, for I believe in Christ as Lord as John did and that we shall enjoy the future afterlife together.

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