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Poignant reminder of the genius of 'Barrence'

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letters

Bryan Avery's poignant obituary of Barry Russell (AJ 24.6.04) will remind all of us who knew him, or the countless number of students who were taught by him, just what we have all lost.

Barry first made contact with me by airmail from the US in the 1970s. He was writing his magnum opus, Building systems, industrialisation and architecture. It is 758 pages long, still one of my treasured books, and should be read by everyone.

We continued writing for a number of years. Then one day sitting on a bus travelling across Finland on one of Bob Giles' early SAG Tours, my wife and I fell into conversation with a leather-jacketed man wearing a flat leather cap and I suddenly realised who this funny guy was.

I shall always remember the conversation. For some reason, it came round to names. 'Laurie's short for Laurence, Terry's short for Terrence. Barry's short for nothing. Why can't I be a Barrence?'

For evermore he was Barrence in our house, I shall miss him. Especially the hand-drawn Christmas cards, the mad letters, the phone calls. He was a wonderful, clever, brilliant genius.

Sam Webb Canterbury

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