A thirst for knowledge took Elizabeth Barry far afield in her 91 years, but her love of home kept her rooted in Cedar Rapids.
Barry, who died March 1 from ovarian cancer, spent her lifetime nurturing her family and her passions, from fishing and gardening to Hawkeye football and The Gazette, which her grandfather helped establish. She was elected to the company’s Board of Directors in 1975 and was secretary until her retirement in 2009.
“Liz Barry was a curious woman with a great intellect who was devoted to her family and community,” said Jack Evans of Cedar Rapids, who served with Barry on The Gazette board for more than 20 years. “She asked insightful questions at Gazette board meetings that reflected her background in accounting and science.
“She was quite a lady — full of energy and very informed as to what was going on not only in the city but in the state. She always came well-prepared to board meetings,” said Evans, president of the Hall-Perrine Foundation in Cedar Rapids. “I will miss her cheerful personality and refreshing stories about her garden and fishing adventures.”
Her love of family extended to her faith home, as well.
“She was a member of the family,” said the Rev. Ted Miller, senior pastor at First United Presbyterian Church in downtown Cedar Rapids. “She enjoyed being challenged intellectually as well as in the spiritual aspects of church life.”
She joined the church in 1935 and was active on various boards, committees and study groups over the years. She endowed the children’s library in memory of her husband, Donald S. Barry, who died in 1991.
Miller will miss their stimulating conversations “about all kinds of things,” he said. “We talked about politics, world affairs, football, Iowa — and we talked about faith. … The last thing we talked about was golf.”
“She got me into golf,” said son Steve Barry of Marion, a retired Gazette software engineer. His mother also instilled in him a love of gardening and of trips to Deer Lake in Wisconsin, even though he didn’t share her love of fishing.
With college degrees in botany and business administration, she was a driving force behind the scenes in her husband’s construction business and various service organizations, from Junior League and White Cross to Playtime Poppy, PEO and bridge and book clubs.
“She was smart, very capable, a very talented woman (and) thoughtful,” said son Don Barry, a math teacher in Andover, Mass.
“She let you be yourself. That’s an important legacy. She never pushed anything on us,” he said. “It’s a wonderful freedom to have parents who would always be supporting you but never getting in your way.”
Visitation will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday (3/9) at Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Home in Cedar Rapids, with a graveside service to follow at Oak Hill Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at a later date.