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One of Kim Dickens‘ kidneys helped keep Marion Barry alive in 2008. But the late Ward 8 councilmember’s estate isn’t eager to return the favor, according to a new lawsuit filed against Dickens by widow Cora Masters Barry.
Masters Barry is peeved over Dickens’ Barry Dickens Kidney Foundation, an organization Barry’s kidney donor created to encourage organ donation. She wants Dickens to stop associating the foundation with the late Mayor-for-Life and stop using his “celebrity identity” to raise money.
On her website, Dickens claims that Marion Barry helped her co-found the foundation. But Masters Barry’s lawsuit insists that he didn’t—and even if he did co-found it before his November 2014 death, the lawsuit reads, his estate won’t let Dickens use Barry’s image posthumously. The lawsuit even asks for Dickens to collect any promotional materials with Barry on them and turn them over to be destroyed.
This looks to be the first fight over Barry’s estate, which otherwise left behind little in terms of assets. Dickens’ website still prominently features pictures of Barry, despite two cease-and-desist letters from Masters Barry attorney A. Scott Bolden.
Foundation treasurer Marrel Foushee says they plan to fight the lawsuit and keep Barry’s pictures and name on the website.
“We’re doing what he wanted done,” Foushee says. “Marion set the foundation up long before he passed, so we’re just carrying out his wishes.”
Foushee says that Masters Barry, who was separated from the ex-mayor for more than a decade before he died, couldn’t have known whether or not he agreed to participate in the foudnation.
“His wife for the last 15 years has not even been around,” Foushee says. “She has no knowledge of what was really happening.”
Bolden didn’t return LL’s requests for comment.
Updated 4/8 with Barry Dickens Foundation response
Photo by Darrow Montgomery