Obama, Colleagues, Friends Remember Marion Barry

Friends and colleagues remembered former four-time D.C. Mayor Marion Barry who died early Sunday morning at age 78.

President Barack Obama added his thoughts to the many reactions on the passing of Barry.

"Michelle and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Marion Barry. Marion was born a sharecropper's son, came of age during the Civil Rights movement, and became a fixture in D.C. politics for decades. As a leader with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Marion helped advanced the cause of civil rights for all. During his decades in elected office in D.C., he put in place historic programs to lift working people out of poverty, expand opportunity, and begin to make real the promise of home rule. Through a storied, at times tumultuous life and career, he earned the love and respect of countless Washingtonians, and Michelle and I extend our deepest sympathies to Marion's family, friends and constituents today."

Barry collapsed early Sunday morning and was taken to United Medical Center where he was pronounced dead around 1:45 a.m. ET.

"He loved the District of Columbia and so many Washingtonians loved him," D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said in a statement that expressed "deep sadness" and promised "official ceremonies worthy of a true statesman of the District of Columbia."

“Marion was not just a colleague but also was a friend with whom I shared many fond moments about governing the city,” said Gray. “He loved the District of Columbia and so many Washingtonians loved him.”

Gray ordered flags at all D.C. buildings to be flown at half-staff beginning Sunday in Barry's honor.

In a statement released Sunday, incoming D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said, "Mayor Marion Barry gave a voice to those who need it most. I – along with all Washingtonians – am shocked and deeply saddened by his passing, and we send out condolences to Cora Masters Barry, Chris Barry and the entire Barry family. He has been a part of my family for decades, and he will continue to be an example to me and so many others.”

While speaking on News4, Ward 1 DC Councilmember Jim Graham lamented Barry's passing and its impact on the city he loved.

"The city has lost a huge chunk of its soul today with the passing of Marion Barry," Graham said.

Radio station host Donnie Simpson added his thoughts as well.

"Marion Barry was always about the people of DC from day one, long before he got that Mayor's seat."

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton offered condolences to Barry's family.

“From my earliest encounter with Marion Barry, when he was the first chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee until I came back home and found him mayor of my home town, I have seen Marion take hold and write his signature boldly on his own life and times and on the life of the nation’s capital. Many took his struggle to personify in some way their own, endearing him and making him a larger-than-life figure as he became a creator of post-home-rule D.C.”

Councilmember David Grosso issued the following statement on the passing of Mayor Marion Barry:

"I was saddened to learn of the passing of my D.C. Council colleague. Marion Barry was a strong advocate for Ward 8 and devoted his life to the residents of Washington, D.C. His strong passion for making our city a great city was only surpassed in effort by his incredible commitment to ensuring that the poorest of our residents were never forgotten. It has been an honor for me to sit next to Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry on the dais and serve with him on the education committee for the past two years. I learned a lot about my beloved city from him and a lot about him. I will forever respect what he has done for this city in spite of his many challenges over a 40-year career."

Barry's annual turkey giveaway will go on despite his death.

Barry's spokeswoman LaToya Foster said Sunday at an early morning press conference at United Medical Center, where Barry died, that the annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway for needy residents would continue because ``that's what he would have wanted.''

The giveaway is scheduled for Tuesday at Union Temple Baptist Church in southeast Washington.

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