Jim Barry walked around the parking lot of Slindes Woods smiling, chatting and shaking hands with a crowd of people gathered. He dressed in a light, white sweater and khaki pants--a perfect outfit for the breezy, sunny Tuesday it was.
"Jimmy! Get up there!" someone urged the former mayor of North Syracuse.
The current mayor of North Syracuse, John Heindorf, stood at a podium, in front of the 30 or so guests gathered. He waited for Barry to walk up to the bench next to him, and once he plopped down with a smile on his face, Mayor Heindorf began the dedication of Mayor James J. Barry Place at the entrance of The Northlands, the village's newest residential development.
"I was first introduced to Jim Barry back in 1961 when he threw out the first ball for the opening day of the North Syracuse Little League," Heindorf recalled. "Mayor Barry walked up to the pitcher's mound, equipped with his trademark bowtie, his trademark bald head and his beautiful sweater, which by the way still looks pretty nice on you, Jim."
For the first 25 minutes of the dedication, Barry sat quietly while listening to others speak of their memories about him, a slight smile always present on his face. Michael Bragman, former majority leader of the New York State Assembly, said he owes his start in politics to Barry. "I was 24 years old when Mayor Barry became the reason I decided to run for office next year," he said. "He is an outstanding member of this community."
Barry was born in 1916, during Woodrow Wilson's time as U.S. president. He served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and later began his career in politics when he moved to North Syracuse with his wife, Betty Nielson.
In 1953 he was elected a village trustee for North Syracuse. "Little did he know what was in store for him," Heindorf said. Two years later, Barry became mayor of the village, and remained mayor until 1967.