Barry Power - Vale

Barry John Power: 4-8-1938 to 29-2-2024

Barry John Power was born into an Australian Irish Catholic family on August 4, 1938 at the Crown Street Women’s in Surry Hills. The family lived in Roseberry NSW where Barry attended the local parochial Catholic Schools.

On leaving school Barry’s first job was with the railways. Whilst there he soon discovered that he was being underpaid. He complained to the bosses with no success so he then went to see the Railways Union (ARU). The Union sorted out the problem in no time and ever since Barry had an unwavering commitment to unions and the broader Labour movement.

When Barry had to do his compulsory military service he trained to be an army cook. On leaving the Army, Barry worked for the Australian Merchant Marine using his cooking skills. Most of his voyages were to New Zealand ports where he encountered gay guys who were working as marine stewards. He had a good social life there visiting pubs frequented by like-minded guys in the company of the marine stewards.  Leaving the Australian Merchant Marine Barry then worked briefly for Qantas Catering but was very unhappy about the way Qantas treated its staff.

Next up Barry went into the NSW Public Service initially joining the Motor Registry Department in Rosebery and later the Department of Agriculture where he studied Agriculture part time to work in Plant Quarantine. For many years Barry worked at Sydney Airport inspecting the bags of incoming passengers. It was whilst Barry was working for the NSW Department of Agriculture that he met Lance Gowland a gay activist and CPA member. At Lance’s urging Barry became a CPA member and active in the NSW PSA (Public Service Association)

Barry bought a house in the June 1978 in Alexandria so he could be close to Sydney Airport. He and his partner Philip King turned it into a green oasis with a beautiful garden.

In 1979 Barry became active with his partner Philip in organising the Mardi Gras as many gays and lesbians were unwilling to become involved after the police attacked the event in 1978. With Lance Gowland and others, they helped the event get off the ground and make it the success that it is today.

Barry was passionate about cooking, gardening, travel and classical music, learning violin later in life and practising with Ron Austin (ex Christian Brothers and CAMP). Barry learnt Spanish to help with his travels around Latin America. He particularly liked Mexico as well as Japan.  Barry was close to his family, particularly his niece Donna who worked as a wharfie at Botany and lived with Barry and Phil for a while so she could get to Botany quickly. Barry’s extended family including his brothers were also close to his heart.

Barry was a big supporter of marriage equality, marrying his partner Philip King in a ceremony at the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriage in March 2018. 

Having a family history of heart disease Barry watched his diet and exercised to keep the disease at bay and helped extend his life for several decades. Unfortunately Parkinsons and dementia caught up with Barry eventually and after a fall Barry had to move into residential care. Barry is survived by his partner of 48 years, Philip King, his many nieces and nephews as well as one brother Noel.  

- Graham Chuck, 2024

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