The Saugus Senior Center was dedicated in memory of the late Saugus legend Richard Barry on Saturday morning. Town Meeting members voted unanimously to name the Saugus Senior Center the “Richard J. Barry Senior Center.”
Barry’s wife of 64 years, Eleanor, said he was loving and caring, as she became emotional thinking about him. The couple moved to Saugus from Lynn in 1959. The General Electric account manager was a graduate of Bentley University and a Korean War veteran. His hobbies included attending his grandchildren’s golf, hockey, soccer and softball games, reading, crossword puzzles and patriotic music.
Charles McLaughlin said Barry helped to retrieve two Senior Center vans, and that dedicating his life to public service meant he had a strong woman behind him, his wife Eleanor. “He knew how to delegate authority but always made you feel welcome,” McLaughlin said. “He ran the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams, which made it to the nationals championship.”
Barry’s youngest daughter, Kathleen Capobianco, said Saugus is a better place due to her father’s involvement. She said he spent more than 40 years serving in politics and more than 20 years serving in the Senior Center. Capobianco said he joked that maybe someday they’d name a building in town after him, and Saturday that happened. “‘Leave them laughing,’” my dad always said. “Paving the way to have the new Senior Center built was one of my father’s accomplishments that he was most proud of and didn’t stop there.”
Barry passed away last October at the age of 89. Known as “the Saugus legend,” he was a tireless supporter of the Senior Center, where he served as chairman of the Council on Aging, wrote the monthly newsletter and put in countless hours to secure resources to benefit senior citizens.
Senior Center Director Joanne Olsen said Barry served as her voice, always speaking eloquently about what she had to say. “Today was the perfect way to honor a man who did so much,” Olsen said. “He always made everyone feel important, always praising my staff.”
In addition, Barry served for 40 years in the elected offices of town moderator, School Committee chairman and on the Board of Selectmen.
Town Manager Scott Crabtree said Barry always made people feel welcome and enjoyed discussing the Senior Center budget together. “I’ll always remember the good and positive things that he brought to Saugus,” Crabtree said.
At the podium, former Board of Selectmen Chairman Janette Fasano thanked his family for sharing him. “He strived to provide children with the best life possible,” Fasano said. “He helped with the capital improvement project at the Senior Center.”
Aside from politics, Barry announced Saugus High School football games for many years at Stackpole Field and served as the director of the Saugus High School Sports Hall of Fame. He also volunteered as an usher at St. Margaret’s Church for 30 years, founded the town’s CYO Basketball program and was a member of numerous organizations, such as the Saugus Elks Lodge, Saugus Historical Society, Saugus Knights of Columbus, Saugus Italian-American Club and the Men’s Club at the Senior Center.
Selectman Michael Serino identified himself as a friend of the Barry family.
Former Selectman Jonathan Bernard said it was a well-deserved tribute, adding that it says a great deal about him. “He was a leader among our group,” Bernard said. “It was all about the town, not about himself.”
Barry’s eldest daughter, Maureen, remembered that he always opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and loved singing “God Bless America” at Senior Center functions. “He wasn’t just on the sidelines,” Maureen Barry said, adding that he provided an ordinary but extraordinary upbringing. “He was there for every event in a leadership role.”