Joan Notre Dame Barry, 77, lawyer, Democratic activist

April 09, 2006|By LIZ F. KAY | LIZ F. KAY,SUN REPORTER

Joan Notre Dame Barry, a lawyer, Democratic activist and volunteer, died Monday of complications from intestinal cancer at Gilchrist Hospice Center. She was 77 and lived at Leisure World in Silver Spring.

Born Joan Morrison, she was given her grandmother's first name as her middle name. The family lived in Baltimore's Ednor Gardens and Original Northwood neighborhoods until she was 13, when they moved to Long Island, N.Y., and later to Ridgewood, N.J., said a sister, Patricia Sadowski of Oakcrest Village in Parkville.

The Morrisons returned to The Orchards community of Baltimore when Mrs. Barry was 17. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1948, her sister said.

Mrs. Barry then worked for 3 1/2 years as a field economist for the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, gathering data in many different states, according to an autobiography Mrs. Barry wrote several years ago.

Although Mrs. Barry was accepted at Georgetown University Law Center, Mrs. Sadowski said their father lost his job and Mrs. Barry wanted to be closer to home to care for her mother. Her father soon moved to New York to work, Mrs. Sadowski said.

Mrs. Barry attended the University of Maryland School of Law at night while working for a chief appellate judge during the day. Her sister said she was the only woman in her year and graduated second in her class in 1955. Mrs. Barry then joined the Baltimore law firm of Weinberg and Green and practiced estate law, Mrs. Sadowski said.

She met her husband, F. Gordon Barry, on a blind date. They were married in 1959 at the newly opened Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

After her wedding, Mrs. Barry moved with her husband to Racine, Wis., and to Florida before settling in Olney by the 1970s.

She practiced law part time and was a consultant for other attorneys, according to her autobiography.

Her sister said Mrs. Barry and her husband began collecting antiques in Racine. The Barrys had an antiques store on Route 108 in Highland, Mrs. Sadowski said.

The two moved to Leisure World in 1988, where Mrs. Barry was active in the Kiwanis Club and the Democratic Club.

Mrs. Barry had to cut back on volunteer activities as she nursed her husband, who suffered from diabetes. He died in 2003. That year, she suffered the first of three bouts with cancer, although she resumed her volunteer work in 2004, according to her autobiography.

She was active in the Democratic Club and served as Democratic vice chairwoman of the Leisure World precinct for at least five years. Mrs. Barry traveled to Arkansas for the opening of former President Bill Clinton's presidential library.

She also enjoyed volunteered as an usher at the Olney Theatre Center.

A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. May 13 at Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church, 15661 Norbeck Blvd., Silver Spring.

In addition to her sister, she is survived by two brothers, James Kenneth Morrison of Chapel Hill, N.C., and Thomas C. Morrison of Greenwich, Conn.; and nieces and nephews.

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