The legacy of Marion Barry ended tragically when the late D.C. mayor’s son, Marion Christopher Barry, was found dead from an apparent drug overdose. According to News One, his girlfriend found the 36-year-old politician and businessman and he was taken to George Washington University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Better known as Christopher, or Chris, the younger Barry had issues with drugs and alcohol, and much like his father, Marion — whose office was steeped in scandal and disgrace after he was caught in a crack cocaine bust and were displayed for public consumption.
Cora Masters Barry, the widow of Marion Barry, said she was not prepared to talk about his death.
“It is very difficult for me right now,” she said by phone Sunday morning.
“My heart is broken. I am in shock. The news of his death is beyond comprehension.”
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The former candidate for D.C.’s Ward 8 Council seat was trying to turn his troubled image around, according to his best friend, Fairly MacCaskill, who grew up with Marion Barry. Christopher had been in trouble with the law for various reasons, the most recent run-in was last year, when an 180-day sentence was knocked down to 15-days in jail for violating the terms of his probation from an incident in which he was charged with destruction of property at a Chinatown bank, reported the Washington Post. In 2011, he was charged with possession after police found a half-ounce vial of liquid PCP and marijuana in his apartment.
“This is surreal. Those who really knew Chris knew that he marched to his own beat and we love that about him. He had a big heart. I think a lot of times he was misunderstood based on how he was portrayed in the media, which our goal was to shift that image and portrayal during his campaign run, and help people to get to know him the way we knew him. He was a one-of-a-kind type of guy and he will be missed tremendously.”
Trayon White, the Democratic nominee for the Ward 8 Council seat, and a protege of the senior Barry, said his friend Marion would be missed.
“Chris was like a brother to me. He cared about the community. He had a lot of things that he wanted to work on to better the community.”
The younger Barry, White, and many others ran to fill the council vacancy left when Marion Barry died on November 23, 2014. LaRuby May (D-Ward 8) won that special election, but White won this year’s full-term election to succeed the former mayor. The younger Barry had endorsed White, but May said her friendship with him “extended before and beyond us being on the ballot.”
“One of the things I appreciate it about him was his commitment to the people in our community. As a small business owner, Christopher continued the legacy of his father by many times offering job opportunities to people.”
Christopher Barry owned a small construction firm and was trying to form a minority community business enterprise that would compete for city contracts. White said Christopher had just visited one of his construction projects on Saturday.
D.C. Council chairman Phil Mendelson said in a statement that he was saddened to hear of Barry’s death.
“Christopher Berry’s untimely passing is a sad ending to Marion Barry’s Legacy. Christopher never ask for the burden that comes with being part of a famous politician’s family. We knew he cared deeply about our city — his hometown from birth to death. And that his parents cared deeply for him. My condolences to those who he is survived.”
Marion Christopher Barry never married and had no children. He is survived by his grandmother, Polly Lee Harris.
[Photo by Alex Brandon/AP Images]