Donald Jay Barshay passed away unexpectedly on August 9, 2021 at home in Boulder due to complications associated with late stages of Parkinson’s which resulted in a fall at home on December 8, 2020 fracturing his right hip. After three failed operations to repair the hip, as well as two months in hospitals and rehabs where he experienced more falls, his dementia got worse and he caught Covid. Once he recovered from Covid, Don was brought home by February I, 2021 for round the clock care provided by Home Instead and Elevations Hospice.
Don was born on June 30, 1941 in Philadelphia, PA. He was preceded in death by his father, Alfred Julius Barshay, and his mother, Thelma Heiman Barshay. He is survived by his son Demian Barshay and grandchildren Maija and Evan, brother Robert (Patty) and children Howard and Tami (Steve) Levey, his Aunt Bunny and Uncle Eddie Solomon and many loving cousins. He is also survived by his long time Boulder partner Ruth Blackmore as well as his ex-wife Leena Barshay.
Don was an intelligent, intense, and illuminating being who was an avid reader — especially of Eastern religions and spiritual leaders. He was rather monk-like himself and believed in the saying we should all live simply so that others may simply live. He was a kind and honest person with a loving heart and was very attentive to his mother and proud of his son Demian. Although totally bedridden, he was grateful to be home and also grateful to all the aides taking care of him. He loved to instill his great spiritual and worldly wisdom on them as if he was the resident guru! Prior to Parkinson’s, he loved to engage others in deep conversations and debate them intensely. He enjoyed our daily walks around Viele Lake, naps with our cat, and spending time at Caffe Sole. His goal was to make it to his 80th birthday on June 30, 2021 and it was a great celebration for two days with plenty of what he called “fantasy desserts” or decadent desserts, gelato, balloons, eclectic music as well as his ever-present bowl of popcorn which helped to ease anxiety attacks. He kept us all on our toes as he went through his Parkinson’s psychosis where he saw animals and people walking around the house. He could converse with them but got mad at us because we couldn’t do the same.
Don had an eclectic background and after two years of college at Penn State and Villanova, he followed his heart and love of acting and went to New York where he was a professional actor from 1962-1975 in the theater including work on Broadway, off Broadway and regional theaters including the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, the Theater Company of Boston, the Hartford Stage, Rochester Music Theater, Woodstock Playhouse, and the Broadway National Tour of Marat/Sade. Throughout his acting career, Don also worked in film, TV, commercials, industrial films, voiceovers and print work.
By 1975, Don returned to Philadelphia and started two companies: Woodstream Industries which manufactured solid wood furniture and bedframes and California Sleep Shoppes which was one of the Delaware Valley’s largest waterbed retailers. By the mid-80’s, he sold the companies.
In 1990, Don left the Philadelphia area and went to CA where he hooked up with an old friend and fellow actor from NY and by 1993, he arrived in Boulder to look up another fellow actor from NY who was and still is the minister of Unity Church. In 1993, Don got involved with a local political campaign and became involved with other local issues for a number of years while also continuing to stay involved with acting by performing at the Denver Civic Theater, BMOCA, Neighborhood Players, and Unity Stage. During his time in Boulder, he also kept busy by driving for the Denver Boulder Couriers.
Hopefully, we can hold a celebration of life for Don in a couple of months in Boulder depending on the virus situation. In the meantime, knowing Don had a soft spot in his heart for all mistreated animals, if you wish to make a donation to any animal shelter or rescue organization of your choice in remembrance of Don, that would be greatly appreciated.