Barry Steven Comess

June 8, 2020

Obituaries

Richmond—Barry Steven Comess, one of life’s greatest characters, passed away on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, following a prolonged battle with cardiovascular disease at the end of his 75th year. Cheers to Barry for a life well-lived!

Barry is survived by his brother, Allan Comess; sister, Loretta Cohen; nieces, Rachelle Millison, Jill Comess, and Jennifer Thomas; nephews, William Comess and Benjamin Thomas; in-laws, John and Rebecca Thomas; son, Max William Comess; daughter-in-law, Ashley Comess; and wife of nearly 37 years, Patricia Comess, whose unwavering commitment of love, devotion, and support for Barry is truly beyond compare. Barry would remark how lucky he was to have met Pat and the privilege of living with her by his side.

Barry was born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1944, son of Max and Sara Comess (Mandel), of blessed memory. After graduating from Maury High School, he moved to Richmond to attend the University of Richmond, earning his law degree from the T.C. Williams School of Law in 1968. Barry served his country in the U.S. Coast Guard and continued to serve as a Commonwealth’s Attorney in the City of Richmond. In 1974, he joined Thomas F. Coates III in the founding of Coates and Comess, a prominent Richmond law firm that today operates as Coates and Davenport.

As an attorney, Barry defended and prosecuted a wide variety of cases throughout Virginia, ultimately specializing in family law. He retired from the practice of law in the mid-1990s to devote himself to his family and his growing commercial real estate portfolio, which included hotels, apartments, and shopping centers from Virginia to Florida in partnerships with the Comess, Diamonstein, and Economos families.

Barry received the greatest satisfaction in life from his family and friends. Always quick with a joke or story and with a personality larger than life, Barry would fill the room and magnetically befriend people from all walks of life. You could call Barry a lot of things, but “late for a good time” was not one of them. A member of the Westwood Racquet Club, Temple Beth El, and the Philadelphia Quarry Club, Barry was happiest to partake in social outings with his closest friends: holding court at his daily coffee meetings, on cruise ships around the world and with his longstanding lunch, poker, and tennis groups. Barry was an active and influential member of Richmond’s Jewish community, where he supported many local organizations and initiatives throughout his life, often anonymously.

Barry shared that many of his fondest memories were in his role as a father: attending activities as a Collegiate School and Cornell University parent, coaching baseball at Tuckahoe Little League and spending meaningful and encouraging time with his son and his son’s friends, developing close personal connections and providing wisdom and mentorship to numerous young men and women.

Barry lived life as a man of principal who always tried to do the righteous, fair, and honorable thing, even if that put him at odds with the mainstream. Meanwhile he reminded us, above all else, to live a life of balance, have a healthy sense of humor and to be a mensch. He will be remembered to so many as a brother or father figure, valued law and business partner, avid fisherman on Lake Anna, renowned Caesar Salad chef, skilled Blackjack player, clever prankster, advocate for rescue animals including his beloved dogs, Willie and Glock, deeply patriotic American and staunch supporter of the State of Israel.

Barry’s departure from life was dignified, without suffering and entirely in accordance with his wishes.

A private funeral service for immediate family was conducted. A celebration of Barry’s life will be planned for family and friends later this year. Charitable donations in Barry’s memory to a cause that you feel best aligns with his and your beliefs. And remember, as Barry would say, “heaven is a glass of scotch and a good cigar.”

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