Dale Barry finds charity begins in his hometown
Family: Wife is Joyce. Children are John, Jackie and Jill. Seven grandchildren.
Occupation: Retired teacher, coach and Janesville School District athletic director.
Community organizations: ECHO Board of Directors, breakfast club at Washington Elementary School and Salvation Army volunteer.
College: Milton College
People I admire: Ken Kitelinger, a longtime Janesville coach and athletic director.
Words that best describe me: "I'm a person who enjoys life. I was happy doing what I was doing, and I'm happy with what I do now. I have no regrets, and I wouldn't change a thing."
JANESVILLE Dale Barry likes his city. "Janesville is a great town to live in," Barry says with conviction.
The 79-year-old Barry doesn't just talk the talk about his hometown. He walks the walk as a volunteer.
Barry rings bells to raise money for the Salvation Army and organizes Faith Lutheran Church's breakfast club at Washington Elementary School. He has been a member of the board of directors for local charity ECHO since 2005 and a member of the Janesville Sports Hall of Fame committee since its inception in 1990. He's also in the Hall of Fame himself.
Barry's six years as a social studies teacher at Parker High School, beginning in 1967, and his 15 years as the school district's athletic director gave him an appreciation for his city's charitable spirit.
"I always felt, when I was AD, the community was good," said Barry, who retired in 1988. "When I needed something, I could go to some of these businesses, and they'd help me out."
Barry said he thought he needed to repay a debt.
"I felt that, well, I want to do something back," he said. "The least I could do was volunteer to help make this a better community."
Barry found his volunteer spirit long before he retired.
"I got into volunteering when I was in high school," he said. "There was a sixth and seventh grade basketball program, and Dave Williams at Wilson (School) asked me if I'd be interested in helping coach the two grades, and I said I would. I really got interested, and that's why I went into education and coaching."
Barry was honored for giving the Salvation Army the most hours as a bell-ringer, donating 40 hours per year for the past six years.
At the Janesville Kmart, Barry stands next to his kettle and rings his bell, hands out candy to children and plays holiday music as his Bucky Badger toy sings "On, Wisconsin!"
Barry said his four-hour stints at the kettle give him a chance to renew old acquaintances.
"I see so many people that I have not seen in a while," he said. "The kids I had in school and their parents. The four hours go pretty fast, really."
Barry said friends are a plus in his effort.
"Because people know me, they feel 'I better drop a little (donation) in, or Dale will give me grief,"' he said.
The entertainment and familiarity are good for business.
"I stand out there some days, and my kettle gets pretty full," Barry said.
Barry then got the idea to place ECHO donation canisters inside local businesses. Again, he was counting on the local guy to come through.
"The Salvation Army doesn't do bad when I ring the bell, so why can't we put something in the businesses and get some revenue for ECHO because they sure can use it," Barry said. "It's the best year we've had with ECHO and my containers, so I'm happy about that."
From collecting aluminum cans, to distributing Thanksgiving baskets, to gathering local donations, Dale Barry has volunteered with Janesville's best interests in mind for one reason.
"I like it here."