Barry Boys honored by – and honor – St. Patrick Catholic School

(An article published in the Norfolk Compass in 2012)

By Lydia Wheeler

The Barry Boys remember the winning basket Bucky Bowen hit on the buzzer in 1963, the nights they snuck up on the gymnasium roof to watch movies playing at the drive-in, and the sour milk served at breakfast.

The stories about school days at The Barry Robinson Home for Boys seemed endless on Tuesday, when alumni gathered at the Saint Patrick Catholic School and reminisced about the good old days.

The alumni don’t want those days forgotten, and a space at Saint Patrick Catholic school helps see that they aren’t.

TrophyCase2Three display cases are housed in the lobby in front of the gymnasium . In one, mannequins adorned with a letterman jacket and a green Rangers jersey stand as two pillars flanking a basketball. In the others, photo collages serve as backdrops for gold trophies on glass shelves.

Saint Patrick has created this permanent home for memorabilia from The Barry Robinson Home for Boys, which was open as a boarding middle and high school from 1933 to 1977. Enrollment peaked at 100 students.

Barry Robinson made a name for itself in basketball from 1961 to 1966, said James Bush, Class of ’64. The school took home two Virginian State Catholic League Championship trophies – in ’63 and ’64. In return for space to showcase their memories, alumni, known as Barry Boys, have donated to Saint Patrick, a private elementary and middle school on Bolling Avenue. Since its opening in 2005, they have given more than $140,000.

“They adopted us as their educational descendants,” said George Raiss, former director of development at Saint Patrick who now acts as a consultant for the school. Raiss said that like The Barry Robinson Home for Boys, Saint Patrick was built by The Barry Robinson Trust, a Catholic charitable organization created in 1924 after Catholic businessman Frederick Robinson of Norfolk died. The trust was a request in his will.

The Barry Robinson Home for Boys opened as a middle school for boarders and non-boarders and added grade levels over the years. By 1962 it had its first graduating class. The school served boys whose families struggled financially, others who were orphaned, and some with behavioral issues. Tuition varied. John Koonce, Class of ’68, remembers paying $27.50 a month, while others remember not having to pay at all. The school closed in 1977 and now, renamed The Barry Robinson Center, the facility on Kempsville Road treats emotionally and mentally troubled children. The original buildings are renovated, but the treatment center is run on the same grounds as the former home for boys.

TrophyCaseSaint Patrick gave the Barry Boys their first display case, which already was built into the wall, in 2006. Alumni bought a second, freestanding case for the space in 2007, and this year Saint Pat-rick purchase a third case . Raiss said there are no plans to add more: “I think they’ve exhausted their supply.”

The Barry Boys hope to raise $200,000 to cover the tuition costs of a child in need at Saint Patrick. Annual tuition ranges by grade from $4,310 to $7,990, according to Raiss. Enrollment is about 400.

Dave Malty, Class of ’65, said Barry Boys give to Saint Patrick because they want to give students what they were given – an excellent education. “There are a whole lot of guys that went to Barry Robinson that Barry Robinson helped become better men,” he said.

“These guys and some other graduates recognize that, and we are hoping we can do that at Saint Patrick’s because not everyone has the same opportunities.”

Lydia Wheeler, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Photo Captions:
Alumni of The Barry Robinson Home for Boys gathered recently at the Saint Patrick Catholic School. Front: Bob Hahne, Class of ’64, and John Koonce, ’68. Back: Bucky Bowen, ’63; James Bush, ’64; Fred Summs, ’68; Dave Borton, ’65; and Dave Maltby, ’65.
Bucky Bowen helped the Barry Boys into the semifinals of the 1963 State Catholic Tournament.
Memorabilia from the Barry Robinson Home for Boys, open from 1933 to 1976, is on display in the lobby outside the gymnasium at Saint Patrick Catholic School in Norfolk.