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Bob Barry Sr. a legend who worked on both sides of Bedlam

BY JOHN ROHDE Staff Writer jrohde@opubco.com Published: October 30, 2011
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Asked if he ever won an argument with his father, Barry Jr. forced a chuckle and said, “Oh, I won several. We were both pretty head strong. I sent him home a couple times from work because I didn't like his attitude. We kind of laughed about it later.”

Barry Jr. said last year's steady stream of tributes honoring his father allowed the entire family to appreciate his accomplishments, as did the book “Voice of Bedlam: The Life of Bob Barry” written by Bob Burke and Michael Dean.

“His tribute year was so flattering and so overwhelming,” Barry Jr. said. “He was actually a little uncomfortable by it because he was getting a tribute everywhere. That gave us a chance to realize what he had done. It was brought more to the forefront and he had a book signing. He really enjoyed that.

“It's strange, but we kind of had some preparation time for this (passing). He was always in a positive nature. He was thrilled his career was over. I didn't know that at first, but I genuinely feel that way now. He rejoined Rotary Club in Norman and he always enjoyed that. He was getting back into stuff and it was great to see.”

Former OU basketball coach Kelvin Sampson often referred to Barry Sr. as Santa Claus — always smiling, always upbeat.

“Santa Claus, that's who he was,” Sampson said shortly after learning of Barry Sr.'s death. “In the 12 years (1994-2006) we spent together, in his eyes I'm not sure we ever lost a game. With his attitude, I always imagined he'd be a great grandfather.”

Barry Sr.'s wife, Joan, passed away in 2003.

“Our priest came over this morning and said, ‘All he ever talked about was sports and your mom,'” Barry Jr. said. “Dad kind of felt like he had done everything he wanted to do.

“I'm very sad Dad's not here, but I'm glad he can be with Mom again and have even more fun.”

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