Paul Joseph Barry Sr. | Obituary
Paul J. Barry Sr., 88, passed away peacefully on May 10, 2021 at his home in Wasilla, Alaska, surrounded by his family.
Paul was born in Oconto, Wisconsin, to parents Louise and Earl Barry. In 1935, at the age of two, Paul moved with his parents and eight siblings to the Mat-Su Valley as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal program to resettle poor families. The family lived in the downtown Palmer tent settlement until they moved to their original settlement on Palmer Fishhook. Soon after, the family moved to their property on Finger Lake and built a farm.
Paul graduated from Palmer Schools and went on to attend Washington University before serving for two years in the military during the Korean conflict. Paul’s brother, Melvin, then encouraged him to “make a decision” and choose a vocation, which he did by seeking an apprenticeship as an electrician. This choice led to 60 years as a journeyman electrician. Paul obtained his license as a state administrator and owned and operated Mat-Su Electric, later known as Barry’s Electric.
In 1962, Paul married his 59-year-old wife, Beverly Ann Barry. With his support and the support of many others, Paul built Barry’s Resort on Finger Lake. They operated the complex until 1983, with Paul working as a chef, bartender, repairman, and head bottle washer, while continuing the electrical work.
True to the spirit of Valley Colonist, Paul has completed many adventurous projects through hard work and determination. One such achievement was in the 1970s when he and his brothers, Melvin and Francis (Swede), built a 42 mile road in the Wrangell Mountains to reach the Silver Star mining claims. Paul, his brothers, and their families spent the summers living in the mountains while they built the road and looked for money. In the end, the rewards of this adventure did not come with money, but precious memories of spending that time with family and nature. Their route is still used by the Park Service today.
Paul’s interests varied widely and were all done wholeheartedly. In the 1980s, he dedicated himself to the post of assemblyman of the Mat-Su district. He also enjoyed gardening, dip net fishing, aviation, heavy equipment and construction projects. Paul could fix, build, or fix just about anything. He raced snowmobiles, owned a PUG dealer, and his love of aviation ultimately led him to create a Gyrocopter kit. He could be seen flying around the valley with an open-air pit at the age of 68.
Paul was predeceased by his parents, Louise and Earl Barry; son, Paul Anthony Barry; and siblings Earl Jr. (Elizabeth) Barry, Melvin (Mary) Barry, Francis Barry, Helen (Earl) Simpson, Marian (Hank) Wiese, Robert Barry, Don Barry and Janice (Walt) Purcell / Tony Neff.
Paul’s greatest love was his family. He is survived by his wife, Beverly Barry; four children, Michelle Barry (Betty Hatch), Deanna (David) Arthur, Paul (Carolyn) Barry, Jo Ann (Joe) Hinds; grandchildren, Ryan (Renée) Doyle, Kyle and Dominique Hinds, Luke Arthur, Ryland, Kaelyn and Johanna Barry; and great-grandchildren. Keegan and Darian Doyle. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Virginia Barry, as well as many nephews, nieces and friends. As a deeply religious man he lived by this verse:
“This is my command:
that you love each other as I have loved you.
Paul’s Memorial Mass will be held this Saturday, May 15 at 11:00 am at St. Michael’s Parish, 432 East Fireweed Avenue, Palmer, Alaska 99645. For security reasons, there will be no reception by the after. A brief presentation will take place as the ashes are placed in a columbarium at the Palmer Pioneer Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, feel free to donate to the Palmer Food Bank on behalf of Paul, PO Box 2421, Palmer, AK 99645.