John (Jack) Barry, 93 of South Hadley, died on May 19, 2020 at the Holyoke Medical Center. He was born in Florence, MA and came to live in South Hadley with his parents, Charles and Mary Barry, and his three brothers in 1943.
He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and entered service in 1945, missing his high school graduation. When he was to be discharged, doctors discovered he had developed tuberculosis while in service. Instead of going home, Jack was hospitalized and began the long road to recovery. But, as was his way, there was never any self-pity. None!
While in recovery, Jack earned an Associates Degree in Floraculture from the Stockbridge School at Umass, but eventually began a long career with the U.S. Post Office. Initially as a letter carrier, spending the last 25 years of his career as the South Hadley Postmaster. Whether delivering mail or fulfilling his Postmaster duties, Jack devoted himself to the best mail service for South Hadley and Mount Holyoke College. A true highlight of his career was presiding over the dedication of the Mary Lyon Stamp on the Mount Holyoke College Campus. Dr. Elizabeth Green conferred upon Jack the degree of Doctor of Letters!
After retiring, he turned next to music, learning how to play the autoharp under Nick’s Nest’s Charlie Malfas’ encouragement. Now he was ready, playing with bands or solo, at parties or hospitals. He particularly enjoyed playing at local nursing homes or rehabilitation hospitals, bringing music and quick wit to those who were shut-in. His pleasant tenor voice, Irish wit, and storytelling were something to behold.
Eventually, the music stopped and the artwork began. A friend once noted: “Everywhere I go I see traces of him – doctors’ offices, business offices, the Soldiers’ Home.” Hundreds were given away in friendship, as thank-you’s, and for the joy of laughter.
In 1987, 400 people attended a surprise testimonial for Jack at Wykoff Park in Holyoke, in recognition of his many years of volunteer work and for just being himself. His good friend Jon Steele – the former Division Manager and Postmaster for Western Massachusetts – was the Master of Ceremonies.
Jack was married to the love of his life, Dorothea Connor, in August, 1949. They lived in the house he built for nearly 71 years. He is survived by Dot, his two children, whom he dearly loved: John (Jeff) Barry, his wife Janice, their daughter Danielle of Granby; his daughter Kate Gadbois and her husband Joseph of Westfield, their sons: Barry Gadbois his wife Meaghan and Jack’s great granddaughter Abigail of Westfield; and Daniel Gadbois and his wife Danielle of Delmar, New York. He is also survived by his brother Richard Barry of Virginia and wife Linda, as well as numerous nieces and nephews who will deeply miss Uncle Jack. He was predeceased by his brothers Commander Charles Barry (USN) and Neil Barry.
Jack loved fishing, especially along the banks of the Deerfield River, golfing with his wife at The Orchards Golf Course, family vacations at the shore, whether Cape Cod or Maine, several cruises, but most of all, trips to his beloved Ireland where he kissed the Blarney Stone – unnecessary but he did it!
Jack has left behind a trail of friends from everyone at the “dump” to the Big Y, Atkins, or wherever he set foot. He filled the world with laughter and brought smiles to everyone. Jack loved helping people, total strangers, always looking for them. He so appreciated his doctors, nurses, and aides, including Dr. Francis Croke, a true friend. Jack, you made the world sing!
In lieu of flowers or donations, perform a random act of kindness – make someone happy, make someone smile.
A celebration of Jack’s wonderful life will be held when the current situation permits.
Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home of Holyoke is in charge of arrangements.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John "Jack" Barry, please visit our floral store.