Coleman C.J. Barry, 94, of Williston, North Dakota, passed away Monday morning, August 21, 2017 after a brief illness at the Bethel Lutheran Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Williston.
Coleman was born in Williston on April 27, 1923 to Coleman J Barry and Luella Conley Barry. At the age of three he witnessed his father’s death in a pedestrian car accident on Main Street by the old Post Office. He was raised by his widowed mother, Luella Barry who taught third grade at Central School in Williston. He attended Central School and graduated from Williston High School in 1941. He credited Williston High School with teaching him the typing skills that influenced his life. He said that in his junior year there was a new young teacher for the typing class and many boys signed up for the class in hopes of impressing her. CJ learned to type well and always used a manual typewriter in his writings.
Coleman attended UND until WWII intervened. He was sent for desert training and served in the Army as a Staff Sergeant. He attained a sharpshooting medal. He was stationed in the Phillipines. After the war ended he returned to UND. At UND, Coleman was a proud member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He majored in journalism and was the editor of the 1948 Dakota student Yearbook. He received his bachelor’s degree in Journalism. He recently received the Al Austin Legacy Award for journalistic excellence from UND.
It was at this time that he met his future bride, Doris “Deej” Johnson at a fraternity party. She was playing the piano and he sat down to sing. Doris was from Minot but was living with her sister and brother-in-law, Edith and Howard Semingson, on campus. They were married in United Lutheran Church in Grand Forks on October 27, 1949. They shared a true love for each other for over 50 years.
After graduating from UND, Coleman briefly worked for a radio station in Fargo. He was then introduced to Rep. Usher L. Burdick by his son Eugene. After a short informal interview, CJ was hired to be Usher’s press secretary (Chief of Staff) in Washington DC. He worked in the House of Representatives for Usher Burdick until Usher’s death. He spent a lot of time back in Williston and North Dakota while campaigning. The Plainsman Hotel café and the Lusanne café at the Northern Hotel were the popular political hangouts. He also worked for Don Short and Sen Milton Young.
Coleman briefly considered running for political office but decided against it after Usher’s son, Quentin decided to run instead. CJ ran a C.V. in the Wall Street Journal and was immediately hired by George Seybolt, president of the Wm Underwood Company. CJ’s position was assistant to the president of said company. CJ and Deej moved their young family from Washington DC to Dedham, MA in 1960. He continued to vacation in Williston for three weeks every summer. CJ retired from Wm Underwood Company after their acquisition by the PET company. He founded Barry Management Company and served as president of the Dedham Community House in Massachusetts.
CJ was also a silent partner in the founding of the Williston Plains Reporter with his good friend, Bill Shemorry and others after the demise of the Williston Graphic newspaper. The offices were in the basement of the Graphic building.
Williston Lions Club. He was also a member of the Constellation Lodge order of Masons. He was an active member of the Allin Congregational Church in Dedham, MA serving many terms on the Prudential committee.
Coleman loved antique cars especially Mopars. He referred to his weekend trips to the junkyard for parts as his “golf game”. He belonged to the Bay State Antique Auto Club in Massachusetts and participated in many parades in Williston, Alexander and Epping as well as the Dedham Flag Day Parade.
CJ remained active in politics. He was a staunch Republican and campaigned diligently for candidates both locally and nationally. He served on the Dedham Town Committee and attended every presidential inauguration from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton.
Coleman loved Williston and Recreation Park. He grew up across the street from the park. He loved to plant trees and credited his years in North Dakota during the Great Depression for this passion. He also hosted annual high school reunions for his classmates of 1941 at the El Rancho. He brought his best friend, Vinny Peterson, to visit Williston and Vinny made it an annual trip. He also made sure his grandchildren visited annually if possible.
CJ loved his wife and family above all. His work was extremely demanding but he made sure his family was provided for and supported them in times of adversity. He opened his home to his eldest daughter and her children in the late 1980’s. She remained at home providing care for her parents (Deej and CJ) until their deaths.
CJ was often seen leaning into the aisle to get a better view of his kids and grandkids school events. He dubbed his house the Eagle’s nest in recognition of his son and two grandsons achieving Eagle Scout status with the Boy Scouts. He instilled a love of camping, especially at Jellystone Park, in his children and grandchildren. He is known for his creative parking, funny songs, love of hot coffee and big toothy grin. He was the eternal optimist and took immense pride in “being the father and grandfather of all these kids”.
He is survived by his children, Toney Jo Hanson of Williston and Dedham, MA; Coleen ( Joe) McBournie, Bluffton, SC and Jim ( Ginny) of Walpole, MA. Grandchildren; Nathan (Amanda) Hanson, Conley Jo (Nick) Anderson of St Paul, MN, Jon-David (Susie) Hanson of Bismarck, ND, Jordan (Kelly) Hanson of Denver,CO, Melissa (Collin) Anderson of MA, Maci Hanson of Williston, ND, Bryan (Alaina) McBournie of Alexandria, VA, Megan McBournie, Sean Barry and Meredith Barry of Massachusetts. Great grandchildren; Amund Reissfelder, Sophie and Edith Hanson, Malcolm and Isabelle Anderson, Finn Coleman Hanson, Camden Anderson and Gwen McBournie and two new babies that will be arriving very soon.
He also leaves his beloved nieces and nephews and cousins, his dear friends; Larry Aasen, Tom Neubauer, Don Baldwin, Vinnie Peterson and his valued caregiver and friend Mike Peterson .
He was predeceased by his mother Luella (Bayee) Barry in 1991, his beloved wife Deej Barry in 2001, and his cherished granddaughter Jillian Contardo in 2009.