Effi Barry, 63; ex-wife of Marion Barry, former mayor of Washington

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Effi Barry, 63, a regal first lady of Washington, D.C., who endured her husband’s very public sex and drug scandal during his tenure as mayor, died early Thursday of leukemia.

Barry, who most recently worked for the city health department, was married to former mayor Marion Barry for 14 years. They separated in 1990, not long after he was shown on videotape smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room with an ex-model and begging her to have sex with him. The Barrys divorced three years later.

A native of Toledo, Ohio, she received a degree in home economics in 1967 from Hampton University in Virginia and became a teacher in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, N.Y. She also received a master’s degree in public health from City College of New York and moved to Washington in 1975, after her first marriage to jazz pianist Stanley Cowell ended. She married Marion Barry three years later.


In the 1990s she returned to Hampton and taught health and sex education. She moved to Washington and supported her former husband in his successful campaign for a council seat in 2004. In recent years, she used her battle with leukemia to campaign for more African Americans to join the registry for bone marrow transplants.