SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Brigadier General Barry J. Sottak was born on Nov. 23, 1941, in Laconia, New Hampshire, the eldest son of Edward and Claire Sottak. One of a blended family of 10 children, from a young age he helped to support the family by picking apples and milking cows.
After graduating from Belmont High School in 1959, he headed for the wilds of Alaska to fight forest fires. Upon his return, while working at an automobile dealership, he married Sarah Ann Masalsky in 1962. They had three children, Jeffrey Paul, Kevin John, and Kimberly Dawn.
Barry followed his older brothers into military service, enlisting in the Army in 1963. He earned his commission at the Infantry Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1964. He was selected for flight school, then served two tours in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot. Barry was shot down six times, lost many friends, and was a highly decorated warrior. His early career also included assignments in Germany, Korea, and several stateside posts.
In 1979, Barry married Geraldine (Gerry) Pivato. Together they spent the rest of his 28-year military career moving across the country for command and staff assignments. They spent the better part of those years at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he commanded the 101st Aviation Battalion, Task Force 160, and the 101st Aviation Group. Barry and Gerry had two children, Cara Ann and Brian Gerald.
Upon retirement as a brigadier general in 1991, the family moved to Gerry’s hometown of Santa Barbara where the weather was conducive to year-round golf. Barry worked for many years as a golf marshal at Glen Annie Golf Course, enjoying working with his fellow marshals and interacting with the players.
Barry passed away on Oct. 1, 2018, and is now at peace with the “Big Ranger.”
Barry was predeceased by both of his parents and five siblings.
Surviving him are his wife; five children; grandchildren Benjamin, Madeleine, Jacob, Rachel, Carly, and baby Jack; remaining siblings, Sr. Catherine Sottak, Bill Benoit, Gale Howland, and Paul Sottak; plus many nieces and nephews.
Barry was smart, driven, and intense. He was never shy to share his opinion; you could always count on an engaging conversation. He enjoyed sports, was a fierce competitor, and was proud of his New Hampshire roots. Barry loved and expected a lot from his children and the soldiers under his command, always striving to inspire and lead by example. He was selfless, brave, and especially kind to the sick and those in need.
One of his closest friends described him as follows: “Barry was a man’s man, a no-nonsense kind of guy. You didn’t need to guess where he was standing. Right or wrong, he was a straight shooter. I admired and loved him. I am honored just to say that I knew him. I will miss him very much.”
Inurnment will be private. A celebration of life will be on Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Glen Annie Golf Course, 405 Glen Annie Road in Goleta, from 2 to 5 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Visiting Nurses and Hospice, 509 E. Montecito St., Suite 200, Santa Barbara CA 93103, online at www.vnhcs.org/donate; or Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758517, Topeka KS, 66675-8517, online at www.woundedwarriorproject.org.