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"LAG" 2002 Obituary


LAGUARDIA o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2002-12-23 published
By Clarie MARTIN Monday, December 23, 2002, Page A24
Music lover, musician, teacher, family man. Born September 28, 1941, in Toronto. Died October 7 in Toronto, of a brain tumour, aged 61.
In May of this year, a healthy and vigorous Barry DIEMERT lauded the efforts of a theatrical group that he was instrumental in establishing years before. He applauded Staff Arts, a group of performers associated with the Toronto Catholic District School Board, for putting on Fiorello, the seldom-performed Jerry BOCK/Sheldon HARNICK musical about the life and times of one-time New York mayor Fiorello LAGUARDIA.
Staff Arts, he said, believed it important to pay tribute to New Yorkers after the catastrophe that struck them on September 11, 2001. Barry, the chair of Staff Arts, seemed to feel that doing the play was putting the group's talents to good use because the saga of LAGUARDIA and the stamina of today's New Yorkers demonstrated the will to carry on.
Barry's strong religious faith extended to a belief in people. It is a belief that has invigorated every Staff Arts production since the group assembled, beginning modestly as a "teachers' choir" some 30 years ago. Barry had the idea to bring music teachers together to learn from one another and help each other, calling it professional development.
Every year since, the group has unfailingly presented a Christmas choral concert (traditionally followed by a festive wine-and-cheese party and a bit of fellowship), an extravagant musical production in June and a comedy piece in February.
Faith and an enormous love of music and the arts animated Barry DIEMERT, a long-time teacher and loving family man. The former Toronto Catholic District School Board superintendent of schools was buried on Friday, October 11, with nearly 100 musical Friends and colleagues leading a magnificent celebration of his life at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church. Friends and colleagues held a memorial mass for Barry at the Catholic Education Centre earlier this month.
It might be said that Barry had a hand in planning his own liturgy. The New Orleans spirituals, contemporary liturgical hymns and classical sacred music reflected Barry's own quiet joy. A variation at a funeral for one of his heroes, Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Carmen BUSH, for whom DIEMERT had played baseball in the early 1960s, had impressed him.
Barry attended St. Michael's College School where "he was a brilliant centre fielder on our city championship (baseball) teams," said coach and friend Ted SCHMIDT. He also played clarinet in the school band.
Barry, the youngest of four children, grew up in Toronto's Bloor/Bathurst area. After finishing high school in 1962 he decided to take up teaching. He taught in several Catholic schools and became a music consultant, a principal and, finally, superintendent.
It is no exaggeration to say that Barry was passionate about music and that he believed every student could be enriched by it. During his years as assistant-superintendent of music (1977-96), he achieved a phenomenal goal which continues to enrich the lives of Catholic students today: he established vocal and instrumental music programs in all the board's schools.
Barry will also be remembered for establishing the Christmas Tuba Festival, which has become an annual event at Nathan Phillips Square.
Although dedicated to music and music education, "nothing gave Barry more pleasure than devoting his energy to cooking and enjoying a meal with family and Friends," said his wife, Joanne. "After dinner, hours were spent around the table with a glass of wine, reminiscing, laughing and enjoying the company."
Barry DIEMERT leaves his wife, Joanne, daughters Heidi and Kelly and sisters Joan and Lorraine. A Barry Diemert Music Scholarship Fund has been established.
Clarie MARTIN lives in Toronto.

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