The sad news announced by Steve Bromage, executive director of the Maine Historical Society on Wednesday of this week that Bill Barry had died unexpectedly on Sunday, November 26, 2023 comes as a setback for Maine historians – both professional and amateur. He had enough time and plenty of knowledge for both regardless of your level of interest on a given subject.
This blogger first got to know Bill when doing research for the defunct monthly newspaper – Munjoy Hill Observer – once the house publication of the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization. Later on when looking for documentation on my grandfather’s business – Redpath Chautauqua of New York and New England – our paths crossed again. It was also the platform on which my Portland born grandmother charmed northeast audiences with her soprano, operatic voice of “unusual quality” according to a local newspaper announcement of her engagement to my grandfather..
Whlle the Maine Historical Society did not have the material this blogger sought on Redpath Chautauqua, Bill’s knowledge of and respect for this national institution was indeed gratifying. It helped compensate for the fact that this major cultural movement in Maine and across the nation was not included in his 2012 book – “Maine – The Wilder Half of New England” – a copy of which this blogger refers to on occasion.
We got to know each other well enough so that Bill permittd me to do a story for this blog on his impending retirement from the Historical Society after 24 years of working there on a part-time basis. While he regretted his upcomng retirerment, it would give him more time to write – something he looked forward to immenselly. During that time spent with him he spoke of his passion for writing – a passion we shared.
Bill’s death on Sunday, November 26, 2023 is indeed a setback for all Maine historians. But his legacy will be an inspiration for many committed to writing about Maine’s “wilder” history that he wrote about so eloquently.
Please visit post herein dated September 24, 2018 for more on Bill Barry.