As you probably know by now, Bob Barry Sr. died from an apparent heart attack over the weekend. Barry was the long-time play-by-play voice of the OU (and OSU) football and men's basketball teams and the Sports Director for KFOR Channel 4 from 1970-1997.
From all accounts, Barry was the classiest of class acts. The guy was kind, sincere, and lacked the massive ego and vanity that curses so many of his colleagues and peers (see: Blevins, Dean or Traber, Jim). My 80-year-old grandmother still brags about the night he took her on a friendly date to a Capital Hill High School football game in an ambulance in the late 30s or early 40s. She said he was "a very likeable and handsome man."
OU color-announcer Merve Johnson shared some insightful (and funny) stories about Mr. Barry a couple a years ago in one of those Oklahoman "Words of Wisdom" things. Here they are:
Bob Barry Sr. is one of the grandest guys I’ve ever known.To think somebody could do a very strenuous job and have possessed such an enthusiasm for it after 45 years is just absolutely amazing. He’s so positive and upbeat and loves his work. It’s never become a punch-the-clock-type thing for him. I really respect that.
There are two qualities I admire greatly about Bob. He handles criticism with a great attitude. And he’s got what we all need: The ability to laugh at yourself. Too many of us make excuses and get all bent out of shape. Bob’s not like that. He can live with it. Those are lessons I try to share when I’m coaching players.
Bob’s spotter board is just meticulous. He’s got everything from shoe size to blood type on the opposition. During our first year in 1999, Iowa State had this lineman from Florida. Bob says, ‘John Jones, a 6-foot-3, 285-pound junior from Tampon Springs, Florida.’ So we get off air and I say, ‘Bob, I gotta call you on this. I think it’s Tarpon Springs.’ He tells that story and laughs about it. A lot of people couldn’t do that.
I'm still bummed about this news. Even though we occasionally poked fun at his post-1996 broadcasting skills, Bob Barry Sr. will go down with the late-great Bill Teegins as one of my favorite sportscasters to ever work in this market. Our condolences and prayers go out to Bob's family, friends and all the residents of Tampon Springs, Florida. He will be missed.