Family and friends mourn the sudden and accidental death of assistant cameraman and longtime Panavision employee Tim Barry. On Dec. 26, 2006, while celebrating the Christmas holidays with his family at his Ventura County beach home, Barry drowned after rescuing his four-year-old grandniece Priscilla Barry from the ocean. Priscilla and her mother Breanna Barry were on the beach in front of the house looking for shells and crabs when a wave swept over them, dragging off the tiny Priscilla. When Breanna couldn’t grab her and started screaming, “Tim ran to the end of the jetty and didn’t think twice about jumping in with all his clothes and boots on to rescue Priscilla,” said Tim’s widow, Sue Barry. “He managed to hold her up long enough until she was rescued by Adam English, who swam out to them and brought Priscilla safely back to shore. But with the strong undertow, his exhaustion just to keep afloat, and weighed down with his clothes and boots, Tim was overwhelmed and drowned.”
Born on Sept. 25, 1952. in Highland Park, Michigan, Tim moved to California with his family when he was a child. He began his career at Panavision in Woodland Hills, where he worked in camera rentals and became the camera rental manager. According to Frank Kay, who was formerly with Panavision and is now at J.L. Fisher, “Tim was a great guy and a pleasure to work with—always the go-to guy when you needed something. He was very well liked.”
“Tim had a love and an in-depth knowledge of film,” added Panavision’s Phil Radin. “He could cite a film and tell you everything about it – who shot it, directed it, edited it. He was like a walking IMDB. I learned so much from him not only about film but about how to treat people. I feel I’m a lucky guy to have known him.”
Panavision’s Bob Harvey agrees. “He was always my own personal reference book on the movies,” he said. “Whenever I needed to know what actor did this, what cinematographer shot that, or who the director was, Tim always had the answer. We had lots of fun trying to one-up each other. I will miss that camaraderie.”
“We called him ‘dad’ because he was always there for you. He was one of the best human beings I have ever known,” said Panavision’s Albee Patnesky. After years at Panavision, Barry branched out to becoming an assistant cameraman. He worked as a cameraman on Hollywood Parade, often worked with TV station KTLA and was scheduled to work on this year’s Rose Bowl Parade on New Year’s Day.
“He’s a hero and my family and I will miss him very much,” said Sue Barry. “He was a wonderful family member and cared about his friends. He loved music and cooking and was active in the Ventura’s Pierpont Community Council. He lived life to its fullest and I’m proud to have been with him.”
Barry is survived by his wife of 11 years, his son Chris and his daughter-in-law Kelley Barry, his grandson Connor Barry and his stepson Josh. In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested donations be made to an account for Sue Barry at Washington Mutual, 2499 Harbor Blvd., Ventura, CA 93001, account No. 1961161957.