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BY ALBERT AMATEAU | Gerald J. Barry, a journalist and editor who made his home in Greenwich Village with his family for the past 50 years, died Wed., March 13, after a brief illness. He was 90.
At a funeral Mass at St. Joseph’s Church, at Sixth Ave. and Washington Place, attended by scores of friends, neighbors and relatives on Sat., March 16, Jerry Barry was recalled as a calm tower of strength.
Greg Barry, a nephew, said that in the Depression year of 1935 when his uncle was 12 and the oldest of five children in an Irish immigrant family in Detroit, Jerry’s father died and social workers came to the house to determine what would become of them.
“Uncle Jerry said that he would take on an expanded newspaper delivery route and some additional odd jobs and keep the family together. Surprisingly, the social workers agreed,” Greg Barry said.
“He was passionate about books and taught his young relatives to love books,” recalled Linda Carlsen, Gerald Barry’s sister-in-law.
In Depression-era Detroit, Gerald worked at various jobs to support the family, according to his wife, Thelma — known to family and friends as Sugar.
“He ran a lunch counter while he was in high school and later worked in the auto industry,” Sugar said.
In 1944 toward the end of World War II, Gerald was drafted into the Army and served in France. He returned to Detroit after the war and attended the University of Detroit under the G.I. Bill, which provided veterans with college tuition.
Gerald became editor in chief of the university newspaper, and a full-time journalist after graduation. He wrote auto industry news and then landed a job with the Detroit Times.
In the 1950s, he worked for International News Service, a Hearst wire service, in Hartford, Conn., and when I.N.S. merged with United Press as U.P.I. he worked as a wire editor in London until 1960.
Clem Morgello, retired business editor of Newsweek, the news magazine where Gerald Barry wrote business news articles from 1960 to 1970, recalled Barry’s abilities in the high-pressure environment.
“Jerry knew how to dig deep for a story and get it,” Morgello said. “In an atmosphere of super egos Jerry was a listener but he would put up a feisty argument to prove a point,” Morgello added.
In 1970, Gerald Barry took a job as director of publications for the international accountancy firm of Peat Marwick Mitchell.
“It was a wonderful opportunity,” said Sugar. “He helped organize a company magazine, World, which became quite well-known and he travelled all over — Europe, Japan, the Caribbean,” Sugar said.
He retired after 18 years at Peat Marwick. For the past two years, Gerald had resided at the Kateri Nursing Home on Riverside Drive.
“He loved newspapers and always marveled at having been able to work at what he loved,” said Sugar, a longtime member of the Washington Square Association and the Washington Square Music Festival.
Elizabeth Butson, former publisher of The Villager, recalled that Gerald and Sugar welcomed her and her husband, Tom Butson, when they revived The Villager in the late 1980s.
“They were both devoted to their local paper,” Butson said.
In addition to his wife, Sugar, their son, James, survives. A daughter, Susan, died last September.