After graduating Dartmouth summa cum laude in 1956, Robert Barry did graduate work at Oxford and Columbia Universities. He served in the US navy from 1957-1960 as a destroyer officer, and embarked on a 33 Year career in the US foreign service in 1962.
During his time with the State Department, Barry specialized in Soviet and East European Affairs, as well as UN affairs. He served in Yugoslavia and the USSR as well as the US Mission to the United Nations. His senior positions in Washington including the Deputy Director of Soviet Affairs, Director of UN political affairs, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for UN Affairs and later European Affairs. Barry was named Ambassador to Bulgaria in 1981, and to Indonesia in 1992. He was confirmed by the Senate in 1985 as Ambassador and head of the US delegation to the Stockholm Conference on Disarmament in Europe, and served twice at the Voice of America, as director of the USSR division and later as deputy director.
From 1990-1992 Barry set up and coordinated US assistance to Central and Eastern Europe, following the collapse of communist governments in the region. He was awarded the Distinguished Honor Awards of both the Department of State and the US Information Agency, as well as the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of Germany.
Ambassador Barry was the first Dickey Fellow at Dartmouth in 1983-1984. He also taught at the Kellogg School of Business Administration at Northwestern University. After retiring from the Foreign Service in 1995, he became a principal in an energy firm, Phoenix International, and a director of Union Texas Petroleum.
From 1998 to 2001, Ambassador Barry was head of mission in Bosnia for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. In this capacity he was responsible for implementation of provisions of the Dayton Agreement concerning elections and governance following the war.
Since 2001, Ambassador Barry has headed or participated in long term OSCE election observation missions to Serbia, Armenia, Albania, Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan. In addition he observed the 2004 Indonesian Presidential elections for the Carter Center.
In June 2006, Barry was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Law by Dartmouth College.
Ambassador Barry and his wife of 46 years, Peggy, divide their time between Washington, DC and Rindge, NH. They have two children, John and Ellen. A third child, Peter, died in a commercial fishing vessel accident in 1985.