The only son of Nashville Mayor Megan Barry – whom her office described as “a kind soul full of life” – has died of an apparent drug overdose, and she asked for privacy as she and her husband face life “without his laughter and love.”
The office released a statement Sunday from Barry and her husband, Bruce, saying 22-year-old Max Barry died Saturday night in Denver.
“Early this morning, we received news that no parents should ever have to hear,” the couple said. “Our son Max suffered from an overdose and passed away. We cannot begin to describe the pain and heartbreak that comes with losing our only child. Our son was a kind soul full of life and love for his family and friends.”
Max Barry graduated in June from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.
“Our family would greatly appreciate your thoughts and prayers, and would respectfully ask for privacy as we mourn the loss of our child and begin to understand a world without his laughter and love in our lives,” the statement said.
Funeral arrangements are pending. The Tennessean reported a visitation is set for Monday evening at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, and a memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday morning at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville.
Denver police spokeswoman Raquel Lopez declined to search the department’s records and logs for the police report of Barry’s death, saying that would violate the department’s policy of not identifying victims.
Investigator Melinda Rose of the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office in Denver told the newspaper that an official cause or manner of death would not be declared until after the results of an autopsy, which was planned for Sunday.
The newspaper reported Max Barry had recently moved to Denver. Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Jenny Fulton told The Denver Post that Barry died at a private residence in the county. Fulton added the death is not considered suspicious.
Megan Barry was sworn in as Nashville’s first female mayor in September 2015 with her husband and son by her side. Max Barry bear-hugged his mom after the oath of office, sat just to her right as she gave her inaugural speech and kissed her afterward.
Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Richard H. Dinkins, who issued the oath, said his son and Max Barry started school together in kindergarten and the judge coached both on youth basketball and baseball teams.
Dinkins said the Barry family would host an annual holiday party with a houseful of kids.
Max Barry “had a loving environment,” Dinkins said in a telephone interview Sunday. “He was not pampered and spoiled. He was very grounded, had a very happy childhood.”
Metro Council Member Fabian Bedne said Barry attended the same high school as his son, and saw him often.
“He seemed like a good kid, nice friendly attitude,” Bedne said in a Facebook message Sunday. “When I served with the Mayor in the Council and visited her home they seemed to have a great relationship at home as well. It is a devastating loss to all of Nashville, we love our Mayor and her family.”
Condolences for the Barry family poured in on social media.
“No parent should ever live to see the passing of a child,” Nashville Sheriff Daron Hall said on Twitter.
The Tennessee Titans posted a statement of sympathy on its website.
“Our organization’s thoughts and prayers are with Mayor Barry and her family during this difficult time.”
Raby reported from Charleston, West Virginia. AP writer Tamara Lush contributed from Tampa, Florida.
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