Barry J. Locher

January 30, 1955November 10, 2020
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Barry Joseph Locher, 65, died on November 10, 2020 at his home in Springfield.

He was born to William Joseph and Mary Winifred Locher on January 30, 1955 in Jacksonville, and spent his childhood in Roodhouse. He married Debra Kochman in 1987 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Springfield.

He graduated North Greene High School in White Hall in 1973 and the Missouri School of Journalism in 1977.

Barry worked for The State Journal-Register and its owners, Copley Newspapers, Inc., for 33 years, beginning in 1974 as an intern in the photography department and completing his career as editor in 2007. He served in many roles, including staff photographer, photography editor, deputy managing editor and managing editor prior to being appointed editor in 1999. He was a member of the editorial board from 1994-2007, and was the senior executive responsible for the daily news operation from 1997-2007. He resigned from The State Journal-Register in 2007 following its sale to GateHouse Media in 2006.

In 2003, a project under Barry’s direction was recognized as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting. A product of collaboration between Copley News Service and The State Journal-Register staff and published as a four-day series, the project’s stories and photographs examined the changing ethnic culture of Beardstown over a 15-year span.

In addition, The State Journal-Register received the top award for editorial excellence among large newspapers from the Illinois Press Association for four consecutive years (2004-2007).

For three decades, Barry and his colleagues were instrumental in developing a nationally recognized photojournalism program at The State Journal-Register. In 2005, The State Journal-Register was selected by Photo District News as one of the country’s 13 best newspapers for photojournalists.

Barry created The State Journal-Register’s once popular Outdoors section. He was an avid waterfowl and deer hunter, enjoyed camping, and loved the outdoors. He had been an owner of the Lower 40 Duck Club in Snicarte, Illinois, and cherished time spent with family at his cabin in Pike County.

He and his editorial board associates were leading proponents in raising community awareness to the significance of preserving the Margery Adams house on Clear Lake Avenue, which is now the headquarters for the Illinois Audubon Society.

Following his resignation from the newspaper, Barry joined the public relations staff of Memorial Medical Center in 2008, and in 2010 became director of the foundation for the Illinois Press Association—a position he held until his resignation in 2016.

Barry was named Photographer of the Year by the Illinois Press Photographers Association in 1982 and Regional Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association in 1983. He received the George Day Service Award from the Illinois Press Photographers Association in 1983. In 2008, he was inducted into the Lincoln League of Journalists by the Illinois Associated Press Editors Association for exemplary service to other journalists and newspapers in Illinois.

He was a former member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Illinois Associated Press Editors Association, the National Press Photographers Association and the Illinois Press Photographers Association.

Barry served on the board of Friend-in-Deed for 17 years. He also served on the boards of the American Heart Association, the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast, the Illinois Associated Press Editors Association, and the Illinois Press Foundation. He was a founding board member of the Illinois First Amendment Center.

In addition to his wife, Debra, Barry is survived by his children Tad W. Locher (Alexandra) of Havana; Bonnie Locher Pemberton (Gentry) of Centralia, MO., and W. Joseph Locher of Springfield.

He was a member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.

Family will receive visitors on Friday, November 13, 2020 from 3:30 - 7:00 p.m. at Bisch Funeral Home, downtown location (505 E Allen), Springfield. Covid-19 restriction apply requiring face coverings, social distancing and allowing 25 guest in the funeral home at one time. Services are private. Please visit the online “Life Remembered Story” at where tributes and condolences may be left for the family.

Memorials may be directed to the Illinois Audubon Society/Adams Wildlife Sanctuary, P.O. Box 2547, Springfield, IL, 62708. Arrangements are in the care of Bisch and Son Funeral Home. 217-544-5424



  • William Joseph Locher, Father (deceased)
  • Mary Winifred (Pewter) Locher, Mother (deceased)
  • Debra (Kochman) Locher, Wife
  • Tad Locher (Wife Alexandra Locher), Son
  • Bonnie Pemberton (Husband Gentry), Daughter
  • W. Joseph Locher, Son

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  • Illinois Audubon Society/Adams Wildlife Sanctuary


  • Visitation

    Friday, November 13, 2020

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Barry J. Locher

have a memory or condolence to add?

Lynn Jackson

November 18, 2020

We have been praying for your family since we first heard of Barry’s illness and will continue through the tough days to come. We are so grateful for knowing your family but also for the impact Barry had on our community. He made us feel proud and inspired. Love and hugs, Lynn and Jeff Jackson and family

Roger Ruthhart

November 17, 2020

One of the finest people I ever met in 50 years in the newspaper business. He truly left his mark professionally, but was a lot of fun too. Lots of good times! RIP my friend!

Scott Simpson

November 14, 2020

Goodbye, Barry. You will be missed.

Randy Squires

November 14, 2020

My condolences to the Locher family. Barry was a true professional. He contributed a great deal to photojournalism and making the SJ-R the quality newspaper it was under his leadership. It was an honor to work for him, as a freelance photographer, back in the day when it was a Copley paper. Rest in Peace Barry.

Lou Szoke

November 14, 2020

I am so saddened to hear of the loss of Barry.
He was a kind, compassionate, and a true professional.
I knew him mainly through the photography aspect of his life and without hesitation can say he was one of the best.
My heartfelt condolences to his family all those who knew him.

Lou Szoke

Sarah Antonacci

November 13, 2020

To the Locher Family,

I am so sorry for your loss. I just read through all of these tributes to Barry and tears are rolling down my cheeks. He really was the very best. His quiet and proud leadership of our newsroom created such a family. I’m grateful for all he built, all he taught me and for how much richer my life was because of him. Thank you for sharing him with all of us at the SJR. We were so lucky.

Steve & Kathy Frank

November 13, 2020

So sorry to hear about the loss of Barry. We had some great times at the Lower 40 Duck Club. He was a great man who loved his family.
Barry will be greatly missed.

Jeff Fuchs

November 13, 2020

I met Barry when I started my career as a videographer for WICS-TV back in 1983. We often saw each other at various news and sporting events throughout central Illinois. I always read the newspaper to see the pictures that he and the other Photographers (I knew them all and admired everyones work) had been able to take to add to the news articles.

It was always a pleasure to see him and chat with him about life and daily events. We even spent time together going through Lamaze classes with the wives back 30 years ago. We stayed in touch through Facebook and I enjoyed his stories of enjoying Pike County.

I have good memories.

My thoughts and Prayers to the Family

Jeff Fuchs

Larry Fletcher

November 12, 2020

One of my favorite memories was being with Barry when he harvested his first deer on Lower 40 island. My dad and I helped him get it across the ferry boat and hang it at the club. My dad inspected the deer and told Berry he should be extremely proud of his first island deer because it was a rare Illinois swamp deer. He went on to explain to Barry that swamp deer not only have hoofs but their hoofs are webbed to help them swim in the swamp. Barry bought the lie hook line and sinker and proceeded to brag to all his hunting buddies and staff at the SJR about harvesting a rare Illinois swamp deer. Every time Barry and I would get together over the years we would laugh and ask if either of us had harvested a swamp deer lately. I will forever miss his kindness and his witty sense of humor.

Rae Farris

November 12, 2020

Dear Debbie,

We are so sorry for your loss. Jared and I always liked chatting with Barry. I have fond memories of our Boy Scout Breakfasts when our kids were little. We loved our conversations and loved that dry sense of humor. So glad we knew Barry.

Hugs and Prayers from the Farris family.


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