In 1947, nine years after graduating from Wellesley High School, Eddie Barry skated in 19 games for the Boston Bruins, a rarity for American-born players in that era of the six-team National Hockey League.
“My first game was at Boston Garden against the Chicago Blackhawks,” he told the Globe in 2003, “and just about everybody I knew was in the stands.”
Mr. Barry, who scored his only NHL goal against the Detroit Red Wings that season, went on to become Boston State College’s first and only hockey and golf coach, and a respected hockey referee whose assignments included two NCAA championship games.
He took up golf after hitting his first bucket of balls at age 27, won 12 club championships at Charles River Country Club in Newton, and even surprised himself by qualifying for the US Senior Amateur Championship at age 70.
Mr. Barry, who founded Barry and Farrell Insurance with former Boston College star athlete Jack Farrell, died of complications from heart disease Feb. 12 in Kindred Avery Crossings in Needham. He was 96 and a longtime Needham resident.
A cofounder of the annual Codfish Bowl hockey tournament in 1965, Mr. Barry’s 1965-66 Boston State team went 20-0.
Boston State later became part of the University of Massachusetts Boston, which announced last summer that the hockey arena will be refurbished and renamed the Edward Thomas Barry Ice Rink in his honor. Mr. Barry also was an inductee to the Wellesley High School and Northeastern University athletic halls of fame.
A member at Charles River Country Club since 1957, Mr. Barry won the New England Amateur and New England and Massachusetts Senior Amateur titles. He was also a two-time qualifier for the US Amateur Championship. A plaque at the clubhouse entrance says: “In honor of Edward T. Barry, who proudly represented the Charles River Country Club at the highest levels of amateur competition for 40 years.”
The popular Mr. Barry often held court at a corner table in the grille room or while sitting in a chair overlooking the 9th green.
“The younger players here looked up to him, and when he was watching them, they all tried a little harder because they wanted to play as well as Eddie Barry,” said Paul Murphy, a Charles River member and former Massachusetts and New England senior amateur champion.
In 2003, upon his induction to the University of Massachusetts Boston Hall of Fame, Mr. Barry was asked if the highlights of his athletic life were his time with the Bruins, playing golf with greats like Francis Ouimet and Tom Watson, or being Ted Williams’s house guest and golfing buddy.
He said it was none of those, but rather the relationships he forged with more than 600 former hockey players and golfers at Boston State from 1962-82.
One was Bob Reardon, manager of the hockey team and a varsity golfer who caddied for him at Charles River and at several tournaments.
“Ed in his prime had a very short backswing and powered through the ball, and he had a great short game and putting stroke,” said Reardon, now executive secretary for the New England Senior Golfers Association. “And he would play with anybody — the real good players and the 20-handicappers — in the spirit of friendship.”
Andy Froude, head pro at Charles River from 1975 to 2004, said Mr. Barry was his go-to-guy, “always ready to fill out a foursome and always with a zinger or two. He used to ask, ‘How much does the pin weigh?’ And when someone in his playing group said they didn’t know, Eddie would reply, ‘If you ever picked it up, you’d know.’ ”
Bruins legend Milt Schmidt, Mr. Barry’s former teammate and a close friend, wasn’t immune to that endearing wit. “One time we were playing at the club and I was having a bad day and Eddie said, ‘Well, Milt, I’d be nervous, too, if I had to play against me,’ ” Schmidt told the Globe in 1989.
Mr. Barry attributed his golfing success to keeping in shape and a rigorous practice regimen and his athleticism that he inherited from his father, William, an accomplished Irish rugby player. “He ran a lumber yard in Wellesley,” Mr. Barry told the Globe in 2015, “and people used to say to me in my playing days, ‘So you think you’re tough? Your dad was even tougher.’ ”
A multisport star at Wellesley High, Mr. Barry played left wing on a Northeastern hockey team that included future Bruins broadcaster Fred Cusick.
Mr. Barry left the university in 1940 and joined the Boston Olympics, a Bruins farm team. He was captain of the team in 1941 and 1942 and also played for the Coast Guard Cutters during World War II.
Schmidt recalled in 1989 that Mr. Barry was “a determined, aggressive player. He’d get into an argument with someone off the ice, then step on his toe so he couldn’t get away. He was the same way on the ice — persistent.”
Mr. Barry played for and coached the Boston Olympics through the 1951-52 season and began working at a Boston insurance brokerage, where he met Farrell. They started their business in Brookline in 1960 and relocated to Needham in 1973.
“It was the beginning of a great friendship and I couldn’t have associated myself with a better person,” Farrell said. “Eddie was special in my life, and when I was inducted into the BC Hall of Fame, he was there right by my side.”
While playing for the Boston Olympics, Mr. Barry met Lucille Steadman, and they married in 1941. She died in 1976. Mr. Barry married Patricia Donovan in 1980.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Barry leaves two daughters, Jacqueline Donovan of Needham and Michelle Sullivan of Littleton; a son, Edward Jr. of Needham; three stepdaughters, Christine Lyons and Mary Lyons, both of Belmont, and Patty Lyons of Candia, N.H.; a stepson, John Lyons of Belmont; 10 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
A service has been held and burial will be private.
Mr. Barry, who kept a favorite photo of himself in a Bruins uniform next to his lounging chair, was visited at Christmastime by a group of former Boston State players, who presented him with a replica Boston Olympics jersey.
“Eddie gave us the confidence to succeed,” said Dick Kelley, a defenseman and 1970 graduate, who was there that day. “He stuck with us then and long after we graduated. His competitiveness and drive were just unbelievable.”
Mr. Barry’s son, who is known as Skip, is still involved with the family insurance business and once played a 19-hole match for the Charles River club championship against his father. “He recovered from a drive in the woods to win the final hole,” Skip recalled. “When we shook hands he said, ‘Nice try. I thought you had me,’ with that familiar twinkle in his eye.”
Marvin Pave can be reached at email@example.com.