Daughter of former Steamboat Magazine Publisher celebrates father's life
By Elizabeth Barry Kocik
Don Michael Barry, 1939-2020
Former Publisher of Steamboat Magazine
Don Michael Barry, entrepreneur, businessman and longtime resident of Steamboat Springs, died peacefully of natural causes on Saturday evening, July 18.
He is survived by his daughter, Elizabeth Barry Kocik and grandchildren Ariana, Nikolas and Olivia, and his son Jason (Allison) Barry and grandchildren Preston, Ryan and Carson, as well as his two brothers, Peter T. Barry and Jonathan B. Barry and their families.
Michael and his wife, Jane, first came to Steamboat in winter 1970 with their baby daughter, Liza, on what would be a three-month ski trip adventure across four Western states, after Michael left the Amway Corporation as National Sales Manager. Michael was enamored with the small town of Steamboat and the ski lifestyle, and he decided to approach the owner of the downtown Chief Theatre to ask if he would be interested in selling it. As luck would have it, the owner said he wanted to retire, and Michael and Jane purchased the theater with help from Michael's family, embarking upon a new life with their daughter. After moving to Steamboat at the end of summer in 1970, they opened the theater with the blockbuster, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," a lucrative film with which to begin. In the coming years, Michael's business expanded, and he created Resort Cinemas, Inc., owning and operating a total of seven theatres in resort towns of Telluride, Park City, Utah, and Sun Valley, Idaho, to name a few. He restored the old opera house theatre in Telluride and had it declared a historical landmark. Additionally, Michael built a second Steamboat movie theatre in Ski Time Square, to capitalize on the winter ski tourism. After a 10-year run, he sold the majority of the theaters and moved on to other ventures.
Michael was past president of the Steamboat Chamber Resort Association (1978), past president of the Steamboat Rotary Club (1977-78) and games director of the First International Winter Special Olympics, held in Steamboat in 1977, which he founded in collaboration with Eunice Kennedy Shriver and with his friend, Olympian Billy Kidd. In 1978, Michael purchased the radio station, KFMU, transforming it into the "Wind and Solar-Powered Radio" as it is still known today, erecting the generators by helicopter to power its energy. Selling KFMU with a majority share in 1982, Michael left to sail the seas, with hopes to circumnavigate the globe ,vith his second wife, Sherry, and their son, Jason. Unforeseen matters intervened however, and he returned to his home state of Wisconsin to serve for a short time as campaign manager for his brother's gubernatorial campaign.
Michael returned to Steamboat in early 1986, compelled to resume ownership of the two then-faltering theatres, from the group of investors to whom he had sold them. It was at this time that Michael remodeled the Chief Theatre into four smaller theatres, adding additional retail space on either side. He would continue ownership of the Chief Theatre, renting it for many years to Carmike Cinemas, until the time of its recent sale at a reduced price to the nonprofit, Friends of the Chief. His love of the arts led him to many friendships with artists, sculptors and photographers. He commissioned his friend, longtime local and sculptor, Jim Selby, to create the bronze chief profiles as the door handles to the entrance of the Chief Theatre, which is still in use today. He also purchased an extensive collection of fine artwork, much of which he donated to the Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell, Montana.
Michael went on to purchase the Steamboat Magazine with an esteemed business partner and together, the two successfully resurrected the magazine, which earned great success and garnered national Maggie awards, due to its quality articles, graphics and photography. Michael also partnered in ownership of Mac Media in Steamboat, as well as publishing Boulder Flatirons Magazine, Vail Magazine, and the Cherry Creek Little Book.
In addition to his business pursuits, Michael loved the outdoors. He was avid and skilled skier, and in his early 70s, he estimated he had skied over 60 days a year, for the past 65 years, when he was not attending school. He loved hiking, biking and rock-climbing, and he once climbed the face of El Capitan over three days, sleeping two nights on the mountain face. His adventurous spirit also extended to the air and to the sea. He was a skilled pilot and loved to take to the skies in his small plane and to sail on the open ocean in his 50-foot sailboat, the Honah Lee.
Michael's zest for life, his vision, tenacity, relentless work ethic and the quest for excellence were at times volatile, but this was softened by his humor, kindness, well-meaning encouragement, and generosity for those he loved and cared about. We all shall miss him, and we hold him always in our hearts.
By Elizabeth Barry Kocik and family
Read Steamboat Magazine's Tribute To Long-Time Leader