Adapted from "THE MAN AND THE COLLECTION" by James C. McWillie
Edward F. Barry (1893 - 1984) was born in Memphis, Tennessee on April 28, 1893, son of Edward Barry who immigrated from County Cork, Ireland around 1850 and Annie Maude Kelly of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was baptized at Sacred Heart Catholic Church and later attended Sacred Heart Grade School in Memphis.
Ed attended Christian Brothers College, Memphis, Tennessee, the Junior High School Division, from 1908 to 1910, but graduated high school from Marquette Academy, Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1912. He attended St. Mary's College, St. Mary's, Kansas where he received his A.B. degree in 1915. Soon thereafter he began work on a law degree at Georgetown University, where he was awarded his LLB degree in 1920, during which time he interrupted his studies to serve in the U.S . Army Air Corps. Upon graduation from Georgetown he was immediately admitted to the Bar in Texas in 1920 and in 1922 in Memphis, Tennessee.
After a long and distinguished law career and life as a civic leader, Edward Francis Barry died after a brief illness on September 13, 1984 at the age of 91. He left the bulk of his estate, including his personal archives, and records to the Catholic Diocese of Memphis. The Most Reverend J. Francis Stafford D.D., then Bishop of Memphis, donated Mr. Barry's papers to Christian Brothers University. Bishop Stafford felt that the University would be the most appropriate location for research and study of this historic local and national figure. Mr. Barry was instrumental in assisting the Christian Brothers in acquiring the property on East Parkway where the Brothers moved from Adams Street in the 1940s. Barry was also an Affiliated member of the Christian Brothers, having received Letters of Affiliation from the Superior General on May 5, 1942.
The Barry Collection consists of almost 400 separate files, 10 scrapbooks and over 100 individual honors and awards, including two Papal Orders, The Knighthood of St. Gregory the Great and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The collection contains the personal papers of Mr. Barry as well as legal papers of clients, background materials for the many boards on which he served, and letters to and from important personages in his life.
Edward F. Barry was an outstanding civic leader, philanthropist, an avid sportsman and noted humanitarian. On February 28, 1984, Bishop Stafford wrote to the Very Reverend Edward J. Slattery, President, Catholic Extension Society of the United States of America nominating Mr. Barry for the Extension Society's LUMEN CHRISTI award. In his letter of nomination, Bishop op Stafford said "Edward F. Barry must be counted as one of the great Catholic Laymen in the Church of America if he is judged by the standards of self dedication, the sharing of his resources and above all as a staunch advocate for the social needs of his fellow man." Barry worked for better housing for the poor and elderly, better health programs, better education and community development as a whole. He has been widely acclaimed and honored as a Christian and humanitarian. He served as a close personal advisor to five Catholic Bishops in his native state of Tennessee.
Ed Barry's accomplishments are legion and have extended far beyond his native city. He was recognized nationally for his leadership in Public Housing, health care, the American Red Cross and many other charitable, religious and civic endeavors.
Mr. Barry served as a member of the County Court of Shelby County; Vice President and Director of State Savings Bank; President of the Memphis Baseball Southern League Club; President of the Memphis Hospital and Surgical Association; Chairman of Memphis Housing Authority; Member of Board of Directors of National Housing Conference; President, Tennessee Association of Housing Officials; President of Memphis Community Fund from 1934 through 1940; Chairman of Memphis Community Fund Campaign 1941, 1942, 1943; Chairman Initial Gifts Committee 1947, 1948, 1949 Campaign of Memphis and Shelby County Community Chest; Co-Chairman in Memphis of National Conference of Christian and Jews 1947; Chairman of Brotherhood Week for the State of Tennessee; Chairman of Memphis and Shelby County Chapter, American Red Cross Campaigns 1942 and 1943; Chairman of Memphis - Shelby County Chapter Red Cross War Fund Campaigns 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946; Chairman of Memphis - Shelby County Chapter, American Red Cross Campaigns 1947, 1948; Vice Chairman 1946 Convention of American National Red Cross, Philadelphia, Pa.; Chairman Christian Brothers High School and St. Agnes Academy Building Fund Drives; Chairman Memphis Shelby - County 1950 Campaign, American Cancer Society.
Ed Barry's honors and awards are many. He was inducted into Christian Brothers High School Hall of Fame in 1968, received Letters of Affiliation from the Order of Friars Minor in 1970, Letters of Affiliation from the Order of St. Francis in 1961, and Letters of Affiliation from the Society of St. Paul in 1933. He has received honorary doctorates from Southwestern University, Georgetown University, Christian Brothers University and St. Bernard's College. His memory has been perpetuated by the renaming of the Administration Building of Christian Brothers University as Barry Hall, through the Barry Building of the Memphis Housing Authority, the Barry Blue Cross and Blue Shield Building, as well as through the Barry Building at St. Francis Hospital, Barry Hall at the former Siena College, Barry Hall at St. Joseph Hospital, and a donation for the St. Peter Village Sanctuary. All of which honor his memory in the city of Memphis.
One of Mr. Barry's many outstanding achievements was his extraordinary leadership in the initial fundraising campaign to establish St. Jude Research Hospital for Children in Memphis. Mr. Barry served as the first and only Chairman of the St. Jude Board of Directors from 1960 until his retirement in 1982 at the age of 89. Danny Thomas stated publicly that "had it not been for Mr. Barry, St. Jude Hospital might not have been possible." The first medical Director of St. Jude, Dr. Donald Pinkel said "Mr. Barry succeeded in bringing together diverse people and interests to define idealistic, yet specific and concrete goals - the confidence he inspired in all who knew him, his generosity made him the ideal leader of the group.".
A display of personal memorabilia and awards from the Barry Collection can be seen by the public daily in Barry Hall on the campus of Christian Brothers University.