Drew was city of Erie solicitor under Mayor Lou Tullio and director of administration for County Executive Judy Lynch.
Barry Drew, who helped run both Erie City Hall and Erie County government before getting top state positions in Harrisburg, died on Wednesday at a nursing home in the Harrisburg area.
He was 72 and last resided in Mechanicsburg, near Harrisburg. His niece, Carla Kurelowech, of Millcreek Township, said he had been suffering from a number of health problems.
Drew since December 2015 was secretary-treasurer of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, where he was an appointee of Gov. Tom Wolf, a fellow Democrat.
Drew also worked for Wolf when Wolf was secretary of the state Department of Revenue in 2007-08 and Drew was the department’s deputy secretary of administration. Drew held that post with the Department of Revenue from 1995 to 2011.
Before leaving for Harrisburg, Drew built a career at City Hall, where he was city solicitor under Mayor Lou Tullio, and at the Erie County Courthouse, where he was an assistant public defender and director of administration for Erie County Executive Judy Lynch, who served from 1982 to 2002.
Drew was Lynch’s top aide for 5½ years, until June 1995, quickly gaining a reputation for patience, calmness and openness. He was involved in all the major decisions affecting county government, often working to fashion a comprise between the county executive and County Council.
“He had a way of looking at the opposition and to meld and soften and to come out with something that was workable,” said Lynch, 81. “I have the highest regard for him.”
Lynch said Drew was known for his deep understanding of issues and for helping those in need. Drew, who was one of 13 children in a well-known Erie family, was a steady influence in government and the community, Lynch said.
“He was always wonderful to work with,” she said. “He was just outstanding in any way that anybody could be.”
In nominating Drew to the five-member Turnpike Commission, Gov. Wolf said Drew’s accomplishments at the Department of Revenue included working on the department’s first strategic plan and being involved in all personnel matters for the department’s more than 2,125 full-time employees.
“I know personally how dedicated and passionate Barry Drew is for public service,” Wolf said in announcing the nomination.
During his career, Drew also served as law clerk to Erie County Judge Richard Nygaard, now a senior judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Drew worked as a lawyer in private practice and also worked as an accountant and auditor for General Telephone.
Drew graduated from Gannon University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and received his law degree from Western New England University School of Law in Springfield, Massachusetts.
He graduated from what was Strong Vincent High School in Erie and enlisted in the Air Force in 1966 and became a sergeant. He served in the Vietnam War and was honorably discharged from active duty in 1970.
Survivors include his wife, Marcia; two sons, Asa and Aaron; two granddaughters, Stella and Ayla; three sisters and a brother; and a number of nieces and nephews. His family said funeral arrangements would be announced later.
Ed Palattella can be reached at 870-1813 or by email. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ETNpalattella.