Changemakers | Barry White '71

Each month, Friends will profile an alum or faculty member who is working to bring about a world that ought to be.

“A new environment, one of high academic standards and a school that clearly was going to be a challenge for me” — this was Barry’s first impression of Friends. From the onset Barry had a sense of exhilaration, being exposed to a level of academics that was not available in public schools. Education was essential to his parents, and Barry’s mother had sought out opportunities to find the best education for her children. Barry recalls being impressed by Mrs. Deegan, who worked in admissions when he came to Friends. To this day, Barry credits Friends as being the key to his academic success.

What’s in a name? Barry was born Richard Barry White, however as a child his cousins decided there were “too many” Richards in the family so he became Barry until he started elementary school, where he was called Rick. When Barry joined Friends Seminary in Grade 7, “Richard Horwitz '71, Rick Brown '71 and I met during orientation and we decided that there was one Richard too many in our class,” and so he was known as Barry at Friends ever since.

After 25 years as working as medical administrator, Barry retired in January 2020 giving him more time to become engaged in volunteering for institutions he loves. In 2021 he joined the Friends Seminary Alumni Council.

After graduating from Friends, Barry received an A.B degree, cum laude, in Chemistry and Physics from Harvard University in 1975, and an M.D. degree from Stanford University Medical School in 1980. He completed his residency training at the University of California Medical School, San Francisco, and at Central San Joaquin Valley Medical Education Program in 1983 specializing in Internal Medicine. The opportunity to transition from medical practice straight into medical management led Barry and his wife to move to St. Louis, where they have made their home ever since.

Throughout Barry’s career he has been involved in the practice of internal medicine and geriatrics as well as medical administration and policy development in a number of capacities including Chairman of Internal Medicine at Family Health Plan in California, Vice Chief of staff at Charter Community Hospital, Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF, as well as Medical Director at FHP and at United Health Care. He has achieved Board Certification in Internal Medicine, Geriatric Medicine, and Quality Assurance / Utilization Review. Barry was elected to become a Fellow of the American College of Physicians in 1993.

Barry's commitment to service continues even in retirement. “As an African American man, I have sought to support my community as well as the overall society at large to dismantle the essential structure of exploitation that has oppressed us all since long before our nation was founded.”

He is now on the Board of Directors of the Greater St. Louis United Way and has served as Co-Chair along with his wife Dr. Anita White of the Charmaine Chapman Leadership Society of African American Givers, as well as the de Tocqueville Society. Barry also sits on the Board of RX Outreach, “America’s Nonprofit Pharmacy” and serves as Western Region Grammateus of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, “The Boulé,” the first African American Fraternity.

Friends Seminary and the Quaker values that Barry was exposed to at a formative stage of his life have had a profound influence on the path he has taken and allowed him to imagine a world that ought to be. Barry also gives credit to his parents, Ernie and Herbie White, who instilled in him a strong set of beliefs including the importance of compassion, justice, hard work and love. Barry’s father became a Quaker while Barry attended Friends and became an active member of the New York Quarterly Meeting. In turn Barry has tried to instill these values in his children, Adrienne and Jonathan. The atmosphere at Friends served to validate and amplify Barry’s desire to fulfill the promise of those values. Barry has continued to adhere to those values throughout his career as a physician, a medical administrator, and a community leader at a number of non-profit organizations and boards.