The Wharf Shop, the store that Nada Barry established 50 years ago with a business partner, has long been a beacon of joy, innovation and community spirit on Main Street in Sag Harbor, according to the Sag Harbor Partnership.
It draws its character from Ms. Barry herself, and for her many contributions to Sag Harbor, the Partnership will honor Ms. Barry with its 2018 Community Service Award on October 21 at a celebration at Baron’s Cove.
“When things concern her, she does something about them,” said April Gornik, the vice president of the Sag Harbor Partnership. “I love her ambition. She has this little twinkle in her eye. … She really does the work. I think she’ s a magnificent person.”
Originally from England, Ms. Barry first arrived in Sag Harbor in the summer of 1947 and returned when her parents built a house here the following year. She conceived of the idea of the Wharf Shop not long after her ex-husband, Bob Barry, built Baron’s Cove in the 1960s. The Wharf Shop celebrated its 50th anniversary earlier this year.
Shortly after she opened the store, Ms. Barry was denied a seat at The Round Table, then the local merchants’ group, because of her gender. Along with David Lee and Jack Tagliasacchi, she formed the group that would become the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce — a group that has left an indelible mark on the village.
But outside of her business, Ms. Barry, who holds a college degree in child development and psychology, has also had an impact on education. She was a co-founder of The Hampton Day School in Bridgehampton 53 years ago and, later, a founder of the Sag Harbor Youth Resource Center.
She says she grew up learning how to give to others.
“I went to a Quaker high school,” she said. “Between my family and my education, I learned to give and do things for the community.”
Ms. Barry can be found all around the community — from village board meetings to library board meetings to school board meetings and many community events.
“One of the ways I know her is that she comes to every library board meeting,” said Nick Gazzolo, who is president of both the Partnership and the board of the John Jermain Memorial Library. “She speaks to us and is sort of like the conscience of Sag Harbor. She is there to challenge us, to compliment us, remind us of how things used to be done where we might have forgotten or didn’t know. She is the keeper of so much Sag Harbor history and tradition.”
When the Sag Harbor Partnership was founded, Ms. Barry, a frequent donor to the group, said she was pleased.
“It was what was needed — a group of people who were heading in the right direction,” she said. “The things they picked out to address are wonderful for the village. The cinema, the park — all these things are extremely good. They’re accomplishing some things that in my heart I’ve always wanted to see happen.”
She has even been a bartender at the Sag Harbor Partnership’s Big Tent Party.
“She jumps right in and cheers us on,” Mr. Gazzolo said. “When you have the Nada Barry ‘seal of approval,’ you’re probably paddling in the right direction. That really says something right there.”
Ms. Barry, who was named The Sag Harbor Express “Person of the Year” in 2011, also received a community service award from SCOPE Education Services earlier this year. As for receiving recognition from the Partnership, Ms. Barry said she was “totally surprised.”
“I said, ‘Huh?’ It sort of blew my mind,” Ms. Barry said.