May 24, 2016 at 10:01 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Barry Smythers-Wieczorek dies at 34
Barry Smythers-Wieczorek, gay news, Washington Blade

Barry Smythers-Wieczorek, left, with husband Tom Wieczorek. (Photo courtesy Facebook)

Barry Smythers-Wieczorek, 34, a D.C. hairstylist, sports enthusiast and advocate for AIDS-related causes, died May 21 in Washington. Friends said he took his own life.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce that on Saturday afternoon our beloved friend and family member Barry Smythers sent himself home to heaven,” a message posted by friends on a Facebook page says.

Father Rich Vitale, a priest at D.C.’s Church Of The Holy City and longtime friend of Smythers-Wieczorek, called Smythers-Wieczorek a warm and caring person who “touched the lives of every single person he met.”

Vitale said in addition to his role as a popular hairstylist at the Logan 14 Aveda Salon and Spa on 14th Street, N.W., Smythers-Wieczorek was an avid participant in the city’s gay sports scene, especially the Stonewall Kickball Club.

He said Smythers-Wieczorek also was active with the AIDS LifeCycle bicycle riding events, which raise money for AIDS-related causes.

According to Vitale, Smythers-Wieczorek was born and raised in La Plata, Md. Smythers-Wieczorek’s Facebook page says he graduated from Henry E. Lackey High School in Indian Head, Md.

On Facebook, Smythers-Wieczorek wrote that an important milestone in his life happened in 2007, when he met Thomas Wieczorek, to whom he became engaged in 2009 and married in 2011.

Molly Ryan, manager of the Logan 14 Aveda Salon and Spa, said Smythers-Wieczorek attended the Graham Webb International Academy of Hair in Arlington, Va., and became a licensed hair stylist in 2007 or 2008. She said he worked at other D.C. hair salons before joining the staff of Logan 14 in 2015.

“He just truly was someone to light up any room he walked into,” Ryan said. “He was just so generous and thoughtful with everybody,” she said. “His clients had such an amazing relationship with him. He was passionate about his craft. He was inspirational and a leader to others within our salon.”

Ryan said Smythers-Wieczorek was also highly committed to social justice and public health causes, including fundraising for AIDS prevention efforts, public education and research.

“He definitely brought that passion to his co-workers and he got everybody involved with fundraising,” she said.

“He was just pure joy and love and just a wonderful, wonderful person,” Vitale said. “He will be missed terribly because he was just so loved.”

A celebration of life/memorial service for Smythers-Wieczorek is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, May 25, at Church Of The Holy City at 1611 16th St., N.W., beginning at 4 p.m. A funeral Mass will be held at the church at 6 p.m. immediately following the memorial service.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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