Barrie Dunsmore died on Sunday, Aug. 26, in Washington D.C. of congestive heart failure. He was 79 years old.
In 1998, three years after Barrie retired as ABC News’s senior diplomatic correspondent, he and his wife, Whitney, and their young daughter, Campbell, moved to Charlotte, where they lived until 2016.
Barrie’s first column for The Charlotte News appeared in our Nov. 7, 2002, issue. In it he explained his family’s decision to move here. “Because of location, good schools and especially its eclectic mix of interesting people (not to mention being one of the more beautiful areas in an already beautiful state), we chose Charlotte, and we have never been sorry.”
Barrie understood right from his arrival here, however, that Vermont had its fair share of the wider world’s problems. “This is not some little hideaway, closer to Brigadoon than to Boston. It has its pleasures but also its 21st century pains.” Nevertheless, he said, “Compared to the rest of the world our problems here are certainly manageable, and I have faith that they will be managed for the common good.”
“To sum up,” he concluded in that first piece, “I feel privileged to have the unique opportunity to live and bring up our daughter here in Vermont and especially in Charlotte. For me it is the perfect spot to sit back and look at
the world.” And, of course, to continue to comment on what he saw—in op-ed pieces in the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and the Rutland Herald, on VTDigger and WVNY, and as part of Vermont Public Radio’s commentary series.
In 2009 Barrie accepted an invitation to serve on the Board of Directors of The Charlotte News, which he did until 2013. And we published his columns—sometimes reprinting his Times-Argus and Herald pieces, sometimes publishing original columns written for The News—on a semi-regular basis from 2002 until he moved to Washington in 2016. As he noted in “Goodbye Vermont,” the final column he wrote for us on Jan. 14, 2016, “Having spent most of my adult life as a foreign correspondent—traveling, working and residing all over the world—I have actually lived in Charlotte, Vermont, longer than any other place. And as I take my leave, I do so with a sense of gratitude for what turned out to be 18 very significant years of my life.”
Barrie parted with these words: “I will never forget my and my family’s time in Vermont—nor those lovely Green Hills and the many Vermonters who welcomed and nurtured us.”
Five or so years ago, we surveyed people at Town Meeting about the content of the paper; among other things, we asked them whose columns they particularly looked forward to reading. The two writers who tied for the most votes were Larry Hamilton and Barrie. When I mentioned this to Campbell, she said, “I’m sure my dad would be happy to know that the Charlotte community still thinks of him fondly and appreciates the words he wrote and said over the course of his life there.”
On behalf of all those Charlotters who appreciated his words—and maybe even argued with him about at least some of them—and especially on behalf of all of us at The News who enjoyed him as one of our colleagues in journalism, thanks, Barrie, for being part of our lives.
Barrie’s family is having a memorial service in Washington on Saturday, Sept. 8, at the National Press Club. The event will be live streamed, and we’ll post more detailed information about it on our website when arrangements are finalized.