Bernard (“Barry”) Joseph Clement, Jr., was born on July 31, 1954 in Erie, Pennsylvania, and passed away on July 10, 2020 in Pensacola, Florida. He was 65 years old. Barry was frequently likened to Superman because of his extraordinary strength and will, both of which he maintained in all aspects of his life.
Barry and the love of his life, Vanessa Kenney Clement, celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary in February 2020. In 1986, the two had met on a blind date in Vanessa’s native Orange County, California, where Barry had recently moved. Barry, then 32 years old, fell in love with Vanessa’s constant smile and her fun-loving nature; Vanessa was captivated by Barry’s “Magnum P.I.” look, his movie star blue eyes, his warmth, and his tendency to take charge of a situation in an understated way. The two spent their early years zipping around California in Barry’s British-racing green MG convertible, putting the top down and frequenting beaches and mountains alike, their 80’s-style hair blowing in the wind.
Prior to moving to the West Coast, Barry grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, the son of Norma Jean and Bernard (“Bernie”) Clement, Senior. Bernie was French-Canadian and served in the Canadian Army and Norma Jean was the daughter of Swedish immigrants. In his youth, Barry played basketball and football, ice skated, fished, hunted, and served as a St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church altar boy. As a child, Barry dressed like the characters from his favorite show, “Rifleman,” and was known for fighting bullies who picked on his younger twin brothers, Ben and Mark. Barry sported a cowboy mustache and swagger through his adult years. He remained an ardent Pittsburgh Steelers fan and ate massive sandwiches while cheering for his favorite team. As a young father to Christopher, Heather (now Curry), and Jennifer (now Wahlbeck), Barry worked in manufacturing and joined the U.S. Army Reserves, where he served for two years. Barry was proud of his military service and especially his sharpshooter skills.
In the mid-80s, with a thousand dollars in his wallet and a suitcase on each arm, Barry headed west to California to build a new life for himself. When he landed, he worked in manufacturing, ultimately with Valentech as a materials director; with Valentech, he travelled frequently to Mexico to oversee airbag and projectile production and to enjoy local cuisine such as “McTaco,” a roadside eatery.
Barry’s health issues began in the 1990s, when he was diagnosed with kidney disease and underwent his first of three kidney transplants; his first donor was Vanessa and the couple were featured in “The National Enquirer” because of the unique compatibility that characterized their relationship. When Barry’s kidneys again failed, a second donor was anxiously anticipated. Around this time, Barry had bought a new Dodge Ram truck; he and Vanessa had headed for the hills when his transplant team learned a new kidney was available. Unable to reach Barry and Vanessa, family and friends alerted Big Bear news and radio stations and a search ensued. Once located, a Big Bear pilot volunteered his airplane and time to fly Barry back to Orange County for the urgent operation, but Barry politely declined: He didn’t want to leave his new truck! After the second transplant, Barry retired so he could focus on his health.
Vanessa and Barry moved back to Erie in 1999 to be closer to family, including Barry’s son, who had become an Erie police officer and is now a detective. Barry was proud of his son’s work and collected clippings of newspaper stories about Christopher’s cases. Barry also loved being “Grampy” to Chris’ sons, Noah and Brady. In 2012, Vanessa and Barry moved to Pensacola for a career opportunity for Vanessa and to be closer to Barry’s daughters, Heather and Jennifer. Heather, a real estate agent, lives in Destin with her firefighter husband, JR, and their toddler, Everleigh; Barry cherished visits with Heather and her daughters Lyric and Everleigh. Jennifer lives in Clearwater with her husband Carl and their three girls, Abby, Faith, and Grace, all of whom Barry adored; Jennifer works in the automotive industry and Carl and his family own a small business. Barry was very proud of his children, grandchildren, nephews, and nieces, and kept their cards and letters as well as news articles and mementos of their accomplishments.
After ongoing health issues primarily related to kidney disease and exacerbated by various injuries like falling and breaking five ribs while ice fishing on Lake Erie, Barry’s health began to seriously decline at the end of 2019. Despite all his strength and Superman powers, Barry passed away peacefully while napping with Vanessa on a quiet Friday afternoon. He died how he lived: Handsomely and elegantly, surrounded in spirit by his many loved ones who will miss him deeply and will remember him always.
In addition to his wife Vanessa and her family, who treasured Barry as another brother and son, Barry leaves behind seven grandchildren and: -Jennifer and Christopher Clement (daughter-in-law and son, Erie); -Heather and Shawn (“J.R.”) Curry (daughter and son-in-law, Destin, FL); -Jennifer and Carl Wahlbeck (daughter and son-in-law, Clearwater, FL); -Debra and Greg Morrow (sister and brother-in-law, Erie); -Darlene and Ray Chojnacki (sister and brother-in-law, Girard, PA); -Cindy and Ben Clement (sister-in-law and brother, Erie); -Nora and Mark Clement (sister-in-law and brother, Liverpool NY); -Yvonne and Mark May (sister and brother-in-law, Erie); -Yvette and Mike Lombardi (sister and brother-in-law, Erie).
He is also preceded in death by his parents Bernie and Norma Jean Clement; his sister, Denise Clement; and his niece, Kayla Ferrare.
Private services will be held Saturday, July 25, 2020 with visitation from 4 p.m. EST until the time of service at 5 p.m. EST at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar, California, where Barry will be laid to rest. The visitation and funeral service will be live-streamed. Please contact Vanessa’s sister, Nora Kenney-Whitley at NoraLKenney@gmail.com for details. View the on-line obituary for California at https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/corona-del-mar-ca/bernard-clement-9259917.
Private local arrangements are under the direction of the Scott Funeral Home, 2104 Myrtle Street, Erie, Pa.
Memorials may be made to https://www.gofundme.com/f/barry039s-funeral-expenses.
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