The city of Miami and Black community-at large mourns the loss of The Reverend Canon Richard Livingston Marquess-Barry, D.D., L.H.D., D. Hum. who departed this earth after a lifetime of service to God, family, community, brotherhood and mankind.

Respectfully known as Canon Marquess-Barry, the community stalwart was an unselfish, servant leader who owned a spirited fight for justice, was an advocate of education who promoted the art of “hard work” and exuded a humble spirit as exhibited by a lifetime of altruism and philanthropy.

The measure of his life is beyond mere words, but exampled in tireless service under the guise of making a difference for the advancement of his race, the welfare of humanity and common good of man.

Known and respected for his no nonsense approach to problem solving, Canon Richard Marquess-Barry was born on November 14, 1940 and reared in Miami, Florida by his maternal grandparents who insisted that "Barry" be added to his name. He is the offspring of Bahamian immigrants who inherited a strong work ethic age the age of ten by working for a mere $15 per week.

When he retired at the age of 72, Canon Marquess-Barry had devoted six decades of his life to the American workforce. A 1958 graduate of Miami Northwestern senior high school, Richard rose at 4 a.m. to collect garbage for the city of Miami and endured the same menial labor during college summers, and worked double shifts.

From his early work as a Miami Beach restaurant pot washer, he earned 58 cents an hour with seven cents was deducted for Social Security. In 1945, his family secured an apartment in the newly built Housing and Urban Development (HUD) project and with fondness, Canon Marquess-Barry would say he grew up in the government-owned condominiums.

With unheralded generosity, Canon Marquess-Barry offered his time and executive talents to community boards, civic organizations and church affiliations in order to improve political and economic conditions throughout his native Florida. His distinguished career has earned him a multitude of awards, proclamations and commendations, too numerous to mention here.

Canon Marquess-Barry was bestowed two keys to Miami-Dade County and one key to the City of Miami — a distinction few share. He is also the recipient of the Key to Miami Gardens and recipient of the Florida State Senate Medallion of Excellence (2009).

To his final breath, one could still gleam the fire and determination in Richard's eyes. He was constant and focused. His love for humankind is impassioned, and his impatience with injustice still burns in his bones. It has been stated that The Reverend Lambert L. Sands was correct when he told the Vestry of Saint Agnes that, "Father Barry is a rarity among priests.”

The Canon has always served above and beyond his calling. His active presence can be felt in government, politics, education and, of course, religion. In addition to these bold acts of faith, Canon Marquess-Barry is a devout champion for the education of our youth. He inspires and emboldens young persons.

Canon Marquess-Barry demonstrated that he is not just a man for himself and his family, but a man for all -- especially those underprivileged. He lives a life of passion and continues to serve God and man using his brilliance and competence, quick wit, keen sense of humor and unquenchable faith.

He, like the nation's 44th President Barack Obama, continually reached out his hand to bridge the divide between races and religions.

Canon Marquess-Barry married his Saint Augustine’s College sweetheart, the former Virla Rolle of West Palm Beach, Florida on August 18, 1962. The couple has been married 57 years and are the parents of one married daughter, Diana (Ronald II) Frazier and two grandsons, Richard II and Ronald III.

The Miami Times extends heartfelt condolences to the immediate family of Canon Marquess-Barry and joins the community in celebrating a life that exemplifies a man who never needed credit for his earthly mark, but gave honor to God for the opportunity to bless everyone he encountered with a gentle spirit, kindness and a smile.


Scholastically gifted, Canon Marquess-Barry earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1962 from Saint Augustine’s College, Raleigh, North Carolina) and was honored by his alma mater in 2006 with the Theodore R. Gibson Legacy Award. In 1965 he was the only person of color to enroll in the Virginia Episcopal Theological Seminary; he was awarded the Master of Divinity degree in 1968 and in 1989 became the youngest person in the 200 year history of Virginia Episcopal Theological Seminary to be awarded the Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa.

Canon Marquess-Barry enrolled in the Doctoral Program at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia in 1970. The University selected and sent him to the University of Munich in Munich, Germany (1979-1980) as a visiting fellow. He was commissioned to teach and certify for ordination the Lay Preachers from the many independent Methodist churches who became a part of the United Methodist Church and was an instructor of Pastoral Theology and Ethics while in his course of study at Emory University.

Foot soldier for justice

As a young priest in Fort Pierce, Saint Lucie County led efforts, Canon Marquess-Barry pursued integrating the public school system and ultimate sued the St. Lucie County school board seven times. He was triumphant in each case.

In 1970, a white cemetery advertised free burial space for any soldier killed in the Vietnam War but denied burial space for Black soldiers, Canon Marquess-Barry victoriously sued the cemetery which enabled the burial of Poindexter Eugene Williams of Ft. Pierce, a 20 year-old Black soldier killed in Vietnam.

Canon Marquess-Barry brought pressure against the City of Fort Pierce and Saint Lucie County that led to the adoption of affirmative action and fairness in hiring and promotion within the police, fire departments and other governmental agencies. He applied similar pressure against Saint Lucie County and the City of Fort Pierce forcing them to pave the dirt roadways in the Black community.

In addition to the many involvements in Saint Lucie County and the City of Fort Pierce, Canon Marquess-Barry, at the request of the migrant workers employed by Minute Maid (a subsidiary of Coca Cola Company, he brokered a deal to temporarily set up a clinic in Saint Simon the Cyrenian's Parish Hall where the medical and dental needs of the workers and their families were met. A day care center was housed in part of Saint Simon's Parish Hall.

Minute Maid offered to pay Canon Marquess-Barry for his assistance with this matter but once again, he refused to accept any remuneration in righting these gross injustices..


Canon Marquess-Barry was one of 13 persons who finished seminary in 1968 from the Diocese of South Florida and ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church on June 22, 1968 at the Church of the Incarnation, Miami, Florida

He was Priested on December 23, 1968 at Holy Faith Episcopal Church, Port Saint Lucie, Florida and served Saint Simon the Cyrenian from 1968 - 1977 and Saint Monica's from 1968 - 1975.

In 1991, Canon Marquess-Barry was chosen as one of the first participants for the Episcopal Church Leadership Institute from 1991; in 1993 Canon Marquess-Barry was one of five finalists for Bishop of the Diocese of Ohio and again for Bishop of the Diocese of Southeast Florida in 2000; in 1995, Barber-Scotia College, Concord, North Carolina awarded him a Doctor of Humane Letters degree and in 2007, Canon Marquess-Barry was selected by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government for its Study of Black Leaders and

Canon Marquess-Barry seldom speaks about two additional opportunities afforded him to be elected to the office of Bishop in the Church. Each offer was on foreign soil; Belize and the United States Virgin Islands. He felt that someone indigenous to those island nations should serve as Bishop for their people and he declined both opportunities.

Additional ministry milestone include his being the first priest outside of The African Orthodox Church to be invested an Honorary Canon in 1995. He was invested an Honorary Canon of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, February 24, 2001.

Accolades, philanthropy and awards

On June 15, 2012, Canon Marquess-Barry's biography was entered into the United States Congressional Record. He received a personal letter from then President of the United States of America, Barack Obama on the occasion of his retirement on December 1, 2012.

A personal Commendation from Florida Senior Senator Bill Nelson was also presented to Richard at his retirement. In December 2014, the United States Senate and House of Representatives passed Bill H.R. 4030, introduced by Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), designating the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 18640 Northwest Second Avenue, Miami, Florida as the, “Father Richard Marquess-Barry Post Office Building”.

In May 2016, his beloved Saint Augustine’s University conferred on him a Doctor of Humanities degree, and for over 30 years, Saint Agnes' Church has given its entire Thanksgiving Day Service offerings to community agencies helping the homeless and needy.

Canon Marquess-Barry raised funds for the American Red Cross following the catastrophe of hurricane Katrina, where he raised $60,000 and after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, with matching funds of $30,000

As a final endeavor in a legendary career, in lieu of receiving personal tokens for his retirement, Richard requested that Saint Agnes Church lead efforts to raise $50,000 for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). The proceeds were distributed equally between Florida Memorial University, Bethune-Cookman University, Edward Waters College and Saint Augustine's University. Richard’s efforts for the UNCF was another act of faith for the career of a man who, in spite of living rather modestly, has always felt richly blessed.


In 1977, Richard was called to lead Saint Agnes Episcopal Church, Miami, Florida, the largest and oldest Episcopal congregation for persons of color in Miami. He accepted the call taking a pay cut from $14,000.00 per year to $12,000.00 per year without a salary increase for over 10 years to assist the church's growth.

Under his charismatic leadership, St. Agnes’ properties underwent many structural improvements, community programs, put the congregation in debt for over four million dollars restoring the properties and left the parish debt free and with a sizable endowment at his retirement.


Canon Marquess-Barry quietly led the move to transform the Overtown community where Saint Agnes is located. He spearheaded the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) project, Rainbow Village Housing Project; forced the Miami-Dade Housing Authority to completely renovate the complex for 790,000.

In 1990, Canon Marquess-Barry formed the Saint Agnes Rainbow Village Development Corporation, Inc. and through this corporation, he built Villas of St. Agnes, an 85 two-story, three and four bedroom/two and one-half bath single-family homes for low and moderate income families providing first-time homeownership

Construction of more single family homes in Brownsville, a community within the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County’s Board of Commissioners has granted permission to build the Father Richard Marquess-Barry Apartments.

Hallmarks and affiliations

Canon Marquess-Barry is a 60-year member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. The State of Florida as Man of the Year; Episcopal Church as Dean of the North Dade Deanery; Twice Deputy to the General Convention of the Church; Vice-Chair of the Diocesan Commission on Ministry; Three terms on the Diocese of Southeast Florida Executive Board; First Vice President of the Board of Barry University's Urban Studies Institute; Chairman of the City of Miami's Overtown Review Panel for restructuring the Police Department and City Government; Sponsored six persons for the Diaconate and four persons for the priesthood. One person, a retired college professor, read for Priestly Orders under his tutelage.

The Canon has always served above and beyond his calling. His active presence can be felt in government, politics, education and, of course, religion. In addition to these bold acts of faith, Canon Marquess-Barry is a devout champion for the education of our youth. He inspires and emboldens young persons.

Canon Marquess-Barry demonstrated that he is not just a man for himself and his family, but a man for all -- especially those underprivileged. He lives a life of passion and continues to serve God and man using his brilliance and competence, quick wit, keen sense of humor and unquenchable faith.

He, like the nation's 44th President, Barack Obama, has continually reached out his hand to bridge the divide between races and religions.

• Canon Marquess-Barry has been cited for these specific endeavors by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP),

• Miami-Dade Branch; the African-American Caribbean Heritage Festival;

• Baha'i Faith;

• The Greater Miami Council of Christians and Jews.

• Yhe State of Florida, Office of the Governor.


Virla Rolle Barry, his wife, wrote of her husband of more than 50 years

"I know he hears the commission and in his heart feels the will of God to do what he does to uplift others. I've never known him to have a swollen head about anything - he always has goals to make things better, more fulfilling and more enjoyable. He is a very unselfish person; not vindictive in any way -people have to prove their unworthiness of his caring. Saintly, perhaps not; Godly, heaven forbid!"

The Rt. Rev. Peter Eaton, Bishop, The Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida will remember “Barry” as a great story teller and dedication to the South Florida Black community.

"He had a deep and unshakable passion for the well-being of the Black community in South Florida. He never allowed anyone to forget both the importance of the Black community in Miami, nor its history, health and well-being. Like many, he would remind us that in the last decades sufficient attention had not been paid to the Black community. He was kind of like Garth Reeves in the sense he had the same passion for the well-being of the Black community-- the same single-minded focus."

"His voice was so clear and so passionate that it will continue to be heard even after his death. All of us who knew Father Barry will always continue to hear him telling us, reminding us, pushing us, provoking us in all of the ways he did when he was alive because a man of that strength of character has a voice that lives on after his death."

Dr. Solomon C. Stinson, Deputy Superintendent, Miami-Dade County Public Schools wrote,

"Father Barry has distinguished himself as a skillful peacemaker and negotiator, without compromising his commitment to equal justice for all."

Reverend Terrence Taylor, North Dade Deanery Director and Rector of The Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration was Barry's pastor upon retirement and remembers him as being tough but compassionate.

"He was a brilliant man and a brilliant priest." "He was a mentor to so many clergy and I'm just one of them, he's mentored so many." "When he would go to visit his parishioners, he would actually cook for them things that they like to eat."

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