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Mayor's wife supported husband, charities

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Monday, July 10, 2006

Opposites attract, and that was the case for Alice White and Joseph Barr.

In the 1940s, she was in charge of a young Republican women's group near Chicago. He was a Democratic state senator from Pennsylvania destined to become mayor of Pittsburgh. After they met while vacationing in Florida, political differences couldn't keep them apart.

"Whatever they had, it worked," their daughter, Alice Loughney, of Edgewood, said Sunday.

Alice W. Barr, of Oakmont, died Thursday, July 6, 2006. She was 86.

She married Mr. Barr, once labeled by a newspaper as the state's "most eligible bachelor," in 1949 when she was 29 and he was 43.

Loughney said her mother, who hailed from Glencoe, Ill., soon changed her political affiliation and was her husband's "biggest fan." Mr. Barr was the state's youngest senator when he was elected in 1940. He served as Pittsburgh's mayor from 1959 to 1970, succeeding David L. Lawrence. Mr. Barr died in 1982.

"She was very supportive of my dad. She really enjoyed meeting new people and going places and helping to make a difference in the city of Pittsburgh," she said. "She loved it here. It became her hometown. She embraced everything it stood for."

Loughney said her mother was a "fabulous hostess," but her parents kept her and her brother, Joseph Jr., out of the political spotlight, even when it came into their Point Breeze home. She didn't know that John F. Kennedy, then campaigning for the presidency, and his wife, Jackie, had been at the Barr home until years later. At times like that, the kids were quietly sent to stay with relatives.

"When anyone very important came to Pittsburgh, my brother and I were not part of it," she said. "We were kids, and we had a kid's life. When I think of what the poor kids go through today, the scrutiny they're under, we were very fortunate."

In 2002, Bob McCarthy, of Wilkinsburg, wrote a book about his uncle, Mr. Barr, entitled "Malice Toward None."

"My lasting memory of Alice will be her generosity," said McCarthy, 76, a former journalist and deputy administrator of Allegheny County Common Pleas Court. "She never spoke about what she did. She was always spending her money to help other people. That's something that wasn't generally known. She was very gracious and very charitable."

Loughney said her mother was active in the American Heart Association and Salvation Army and had volunteered for many years at hospitals, including Mercy, Shadyside and St. Margaret's.

"My mother was a good lady who took care of anyone who needed taking care of," she said.

Mrs. Barr is survived by her children, Alice E. "Candy" Barr Loughney and Joseph M. "Skipp" Barr Jr.; a brother, Roger White; and seven grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Joseph M. Barr; two sisters, Virginia McCortney and Hazel Skillen; and two brothers, William and Robert White.

Friends will be received from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at John A. Freyvogel Sons Inc., 4900 Centre Ave. at Devonshire Street, Shadyside. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Paul Cathedral. Burial will be at St. Mary's Cemetery.

The family asks that memorials be in the form of donations to the Alzheimer's Association, the American Heart Association or the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

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