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Signpainter Joseph Barry Passed Away in July

Acknowledged in Mike Stevens’ Mastering Layout, the military veteran was 89 years old.




Legendary signpainter Joseph G. Barry of Windham, NY passed away on July 14 at the age of 89. Information about his family, background and military service is below.

Joseph G. Berry

Mark Oatis, creative director, YESCO, Las Vegas and one of the original “Letterheads” — proponents of classic sign design and techniques — has granted Signs of the Times permission to quote his tribute to Joseph Barry.

A crackerjack signpainter

“You will recognize the passage [in the photo] from the Acknowledgements pages in Mike Stevens’ Mastering Layout,” [Mark Oatis writes]. “I think I may have opined (since I usually can’t help myself) that the unfortunate appearance of most contemporary, post-digital sign design proves that study of Stevens is needed now more than ever. Nobody was a greater proponent of that philosophy than Joe Barry. And challenging the orthodoxy was his mission.

Joe was a crackerjack signpainter, a great friend of Mike’s and his intellectual peer — hence the important printed acknowledgement. Even though Joe was an East Coast guy, he got to know Mike while they were working for Harrison Todd in California, one of those legendary shops with top-notch talent (similar to the golden period of Beverly Sign Co. in Chicago) where the work created was so unique that it fostered design trends throughout the industry.


Joe Barry is acknowledged by name in Mike Stevens’ 1985 classic sign design manual: Mastering Layout: On the Art of Eye Appeal, a book still in use — and much needed — today. (Photo by Mark Oatis)

I got to know Joe well during his 15 or so years in Denver, and we worked together for awhile at Cliff Singer Lettering. He was an inspiring craftsman, and we pored over — and dissected — every design resource we could. These included the quarterly booklets Mike Stevens distributed before Mastering Layout was published. Joe was always forthcoming and friendly in sharing the lessons he had learned. His disciplined example was important to the development of my own career. He persuaded Mike Stevens to travel to Denver to give one of his famous seminars (his last). I was privileged to attend it…

Thank you for sending the other remembrances of Joe. It widens my view of him, and provides proof that each of us is “more than one person,” when viewed through the eyes of others.

A final point: A memorial paver at the American Sign Museum (Cincinnati) might be in order for Joe. The names of many of his friends can be found there.” — Mark Oatis

A veteran buried with military honors

Born February 24, 1933 in Melrose, NY, Barry graduated high school and joined the Marines, serving in the Korean War. Following his honorable discharge, Barry fulfilled his life’s ambition to become a commercial artist and graphic designer, courtesy of information provided by Decker Funeral Home in Windham.


A paver brick at the American Sign Museum honoring the late influential Denver sign artist and teacher Jerry Albright, another friend and contemporary of Joe Barry’s. (Photo by Mark Oatis)

Barry was married to Mary C. Barry for 25 years and they have three children together. When he passed, Barry’s daughter Colleen was by his side. He is survived by his three children Micheal Barry, Cathleen (David) Whalen and Colleen (Bill) Shaw; grandchildren: Kirstin, Makenzie, Alexandra, Jared, Mitchell; great grandson Elliott.

Barry was interred with Military Honors at Gerald B. H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery in Schuylerville, NY on July 19. He will be missed by a great many.

For more information, click here.



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