Max Barry, the 22-year-old son of Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, died this weekend of an apparent drug overdose. He was found Saturday evening near Denver, Colorado.
"We cannot begin to describe the pain and heartbreak that comes with losing our only child. Our son was a kind soul full of life and love for his family and friends," the mayor said in a written statement Sunday morning.
As Max Barry’s high school teacher and advisor at University School of Nashville, Dean Masullo has many memories of him as a kid who loved the outdoors — hiking, swimming — and he didn’t bat at an eye when taken for a weeklong national forest retreat with no running water or electricity.
And Masullo says one photo epitomizes Max. It shows him during college at the University of Pugent Sound in Washington. He’s on a lake, holding a giant fish.
“Everything Max did was outsized. He was an enormous personality," Masullo says. "He was funny. He was smart. He was personable. He was empathetic.”
Max Barry graduated in June and had recently moved to Colorado. He got his high school diploma from USN but also went to MLK High School, West End Middle and Eakin Elementary.
Longtime family friend and local judge Richard Dinkins described Max Barry as a happy, unspoiled young man who approached life energetically. He recalls Max not being particularly good at little league sports.
"But whatever you got from him was 100 percent. He was very energetic. Very rambunctious," Dinkins recalls. "I remember we were in a tournament game out in Madison, and Max had to have hit what was a little league tape-measure home run, rounded the bases so happy. He was like, ‘What’s next?’ in a matter-of-fact way."\
Dinkins told stories about his own son growing up with Max and Mayor Barry's inauguration.
Dinkins says no parent should have to bury a child. He says that’s a thought that had been on the mayor’s mind recently after meeting with a mother who had lost a son to gun violence.
“And here, two, three days later, she is in that position," Dinkins says. "Let her be Megan for a few days and she will be the mayor when she’s able to do that.”
Mayor Barry has been coordinating with top staff to run the city in her absence.
Communications director Sean Braisted says the tragedy makes for a difficult time for the mayor as a parent and as a civic leader.
“She’s going to take some time to mourn the loss of her son with her husband, Bruce, and her family who are coming into town. But if there’s an emergency situation where her attention is needed, she’s certainly ready and able to do so,” he says.
A visitation is scheduled for 5 p.m Monday at the Blair School of Music, followed by a memorial 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Belcourt Theatre. Messages of condolence can be sent to email@example.com or Office of Mayor Megan Barry, 1 Public Sq, Nashville, TN 37201.