Cover photo for Russell Barry, Sr.'s Obituary
1926 Russell 2022

Russell Barry, Sr.

May 7, 1926 — January 12, 2022

Russell John Barry, Sr.

Russell Barry, 95, passed peacefully on January 12, 2022 in Houston, TX, after a very short illness. Known to all who loved him as “PopPop”, he was a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather who held enduring affection for his family and friends.

Russell was born on May 7, 1926 in New York City, N.Y., to Harry and Mary Voelp Barry. He met his childhood sweetheart, Joyce Riekel Barry, 86 years ago while attending the 5th grade. They were married in 1947, shortly after Russell returned home from his WWII overseas deployment. Joyce preceded Russell in death on December 4, 2018 after a long illness.

Surviving are daughter Leslie (Darrell) Pierce; grandchildren Ryan (Courtney) Pierce; and his great-grandchildren Christian and Colton Pierce; all residing in Katy, TX.  Russell was also preceded in death by his parents, his brother Harry, sister Marion, two children- Russell J. Barry, Jr. and Christopher Barry, and grandson Travis Pierce.

Russell was born and grew up with his older brother and sister, Harry Jr. and Marion, on 1272 Nelson Avenue in the Bronx, New York City. He lived (nearly) “across the street” from the original Yankee Stadium and through the help of kind policemen, was able to “sneak in” to watch many national baseball heroes play the game, while he sat with childhood friends at a location on the scoreboard. The policemen at that time walked specific neighborhood beats, and they personally knew all the residents, including kids, living within their area. Russell lost his dad at age 3, when a truck driver collided with his dad while walking from work, at the curb in front of his home, with Russell and the family directly witnessing the event. Russell’s mom received a small insurance award that she managed carefully to make ends meet. This was the depression era and times were very hard. Even so, Russell always spoke of his mother’s strength, resilience, and courage during these times. He said the family was very poor, but he never missed a meal. These early experiences contributed to the development of Russell’s nature. He was frugal, had unparalleled common sense, and was eternally optimistic.

Russell’s first employment began in the mailroom with Exxon at age 17 in New York City. Shortly after, he was drafted to serve in the HQ CO 327th Gli Inf, 101st Airborne Division, and immediately deployed to Europe for World War II. Russell participated in the advance by the Allies through England, France, and Germany, and endured numerous battles. He spoke about constant intense skirmishes as the army advanced, spending many nights in foxholes during freezing weather, situated for example in the midst of one tree line, firing on and taking fire from the enemy located in the opposing tree line, with the sky ablaze with artillery fire.  Russell ultimately arrived with his unit in Berchtesgaden to secure the area surrounding the Eagles Nest and Adolph Hitler’s home. Russell was very proud to have served his country and in characteristic modest manner shared by so many of those men and women, says he just did what he was asked to do.  Russell was honored as a bronze star recipient, for heroic action that involved positioning himself in front of an advancing tank while he and his platoon were under enemy fire, and disabling it with an antitank gun. Other than this, he never spoke about unpleasant wartime events and only professed his profound admiration for his military brothers. Upon the conclusion of the war, Russell returned to the United States on the Queen Mary and participated with his unit in New York City’s Ticker tape parade/celebration. His final rank was Platoon Sergeant.

Russell returned to his job to work as an accountant in Exxon’s Marine Division. He and his family were transferred to Houston in 1961 when the Company made the decision to relocate its business there. He retired from Exxon in 1983 after 40 years of service. Russell was a member and served on the Vestry of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church. He was an avid tennis player, basketball enthusiast, loved bowling, dancing, long distance running (participating in many Marathons), and enjoyed traveling. Most of all, he loved his family.

Russell lived the last two and one-half years of his life in the assisted living wing of Vibra Life Katy, and quickly became friends with the staff and incoming new residents. Russell was selected to be the Hall Monitor in grade school, and this leadership quality carried him through the military and later on with his relationships with friends at Vibra Life. He would introduce them to the facilities, invite them to dinner, and assist them with needs and activities. He loved good conversation. He was known for his inspirational suggestions like “we can do this” and “we’ll just have to live with it”. He maintained excellent health until 4 days before entering Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital, where he died. He felt blessed for the gifts given to him by God. We are all grateful for his sacrifice, many of us are better people because of him, and we miss him.

Russell will be buried next to his wife Joyce after a funeral service with military honors, to be held on February 2, 2022 at Houston National Cemetery located at 10410 Veterans Memorial Dr., Houston, TX 77038-1502. For those who wish to pay final respects, Lane 2 will be used for lining up at 1:00 pm for escort to the facility shelter for the service to begin promptly at 1:15 pm. The service will last about 30 minutes. Umbrellas are advised in case of rain.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Russell Barry, Sr., please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Starts at 1:15 pm (Central time)

Houston National Cemetery, Houston, TX


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