Barry was born in Chicago, Illinois. He went to the Chicago public schools and then went to the Notre Dame preparatory school for thirteen years, from grade school to law school. He then received his law degree from the Notre Dame Law School and was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1928. Barry was involved with the Democratic Party in Chicago. Barry served in the Illinois Senate from 1943 until 1953. He then served as an Illinois circuit court judge for Cook County, Illinois from 1953 until his retirement in 1978. He then resumed practicing law in Chicago. He died on October 13, 1988 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital after suffering a heart attack while at his law office.