May Pon Barry died on Sunday, May 12, after a long battle with cancer. May’s husband of 45 years, Sunset District realtor John Barry, reported her passing to the RichmondSunsetNews.com.
The Barry-Pon family has lived in the Inner-Sunset District for decades. During that time, John, May and their two daughters, Heather and Louise, have contributed considerably to the neighborhood.
Active members of the Sunset Heights Association of Responsible People (SHARP), and other groups, John and May Barry helped many people and organizations in various ways. May and John were always committed to making the Sunset a good and stable place to live, especially for families.
“May was actually quite extraordinary,” Barry said. “She was a private person with a public purpose. She was always organizing community events and projects, such as establishing the SF recycling Centers network under the auspices of the Richmond Environment Action (REA) at the University of San Francisco (USF),” he said.
“In 1970, when she was 23 years old, May, along with a few others, rallied for the cause. REA operated on the USF campus until 1996, when the university needed to reclaim its generously donated Anza and Collins parking lot to build teacher housing,” Barry said.
“REA was inspired by the first Earth Day, and was to get San Francisco to have a comprehensive, citywide recycling system,” Barry said. “That was back in the days more than 40 years ago when, if you called City Hall and asked a clerk ‘where’s the nearest Recycling Center?’ The answer was, honest to God! ‘What’s a Recycling Center?’”
Despite the ongoing struggle with a stage-4 cancer condition, May continued to work. She was by profession an enrolled tax agent and a highly skilled tax specialist that many certified public accountants would turn to for help. May’s tenure at M-Butterfield, Brown and Associates earned her respect, admiration and influence in the business community.
She served as principal and president of M-Butterfield as well as holding other leadership positions with various organizations and associations. May served eight years on the board of directors of the San Francisco chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). During that time she also served as NAWBO chapter president. Through NAWBO (and other groups) she was able to participate in charitable outreach efforts, as well as promote educational and career opportunities for women.
“It hurts me to have to share this news,” Barry said. He referred to their time together as a 45-year adventure of ‘Gaudeamus Igitur’ (a life of rejoicing in accomplishments large and small).
“May died at sunrise on Sunday, Mother’s Day,” Barry said. “She was at home, looking out the bedroom window at the Golden Gate Bridge.”
May Pon Barry, an alumna of Galileo High School, is survived by husband, John Barry, daughters, Louise Pon-Barry (with son-in-law Derek) and Heather (with son-in-law Brendan) her granddaughter, Sierra Madison Cienfuegos and a grandson, Thomas Chua Pon-O’Connor.
A memorial will be held on Thursday afternoon May 23, 2019 at the Foresthill Clubhouse.