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He's gone

My father passed away this morning about 5:30 am. My older brother was with him, and said it seemed peaceful. He had not responded to us since Saturday night when he would still open his eyes and perhaps try to say a word or two.

I can't put together the post I want to do about him as my father and the center of an extended family just now, so I'm just going to paste our 'public' obituary draft which will appear in the local newspaper. Behind the cut....

Leo Thomas "Tommy" Barber, Jr.

Moultrie businessman and noted conservationist Leo Thomas "Tommy" Barber, Jr. died June 15, 2009 at VistaCare Hospice at Wesley Woods in Atlanta after complications from surgery. He was 86. He was born December 4, 1922 in Moultrie, Georgia, where he lived most of his life. He graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Civil Engineering, although his coursework was interrupted by his service in World War II. He served in France and Germany as a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1944-45 seeing combat in the Colmar Pocket in France, and later was among the first U.S. soldiers to reach Hitler's summerhouse on the Kehlstein in Bavaria, Germany. He continued in the Army Reserve until 1972, retiring at the rank of Lt. Colonel.

Following his graduation from Georgia Tech he married Ann Lee of Dallas, Georgia a year after they met on a blind date to the ballet. They returned to Moultrie and Tommy went into the contracting business with his father. In the early years he and Ann lived in various towns in the Southeast as he worked on construction projects including bridges across Lake Sinclair in Milledgeville, the Daytona Beach sewer system, and a bridge over the Saluda River in the Piedmont, South Carolina area. Tommy and Ann eventually settled back in Moultrie where he worked with his father and brother Albert in Barber Contracting Company while continuing to travel to supervise power-line construction projects built by Barber and Gibson Contractors until that business was sold. Thereafter his work was focused more on local construction projects and investments. He served as a director of Southwest Georgia Bank and its predecessors from 1951 to 1999 and was Chairman of the Board from 1989 to 1999. He also was a member of the Rotary Club of Moultrie from 1945 until his death, serving as president from 1971-72.

His business career did not interfere with his interests in conservation, wildflowers, natural areas, and photography, all shared with his wife Ann. Tommy and Ann began taking pictures of wildflowers when their four children wouldn't hold still for the camera. That shared hobby led Tommy to a life-long interest in conservation and botany, and the family-owned farm where many of their photographs were taken is now the Doerun Pitcher Plant Bog Natural Area. In 1971 he was appointed by then-Governor Jimmy Carter to the Board of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and served until 1978. He and Ann were charter members of the Georgia Conservancy, and Tommy was on the Board of Trustees of the Conservancy from 1968-1991 and was Chairman from 1979-1981. He and Ann also were active members of the Georgia Botanical Society. Their wildflower photographs were published in two wildflower guides and numerous magazines, and Ann and Tommy produced many scripted slide shows on wildflowers and other topics. In 1982 Tommy was named Conservationist of the Year by the Georgia Wildlife Federation and in 1984 he received the Rock Howard Award given by the Georgia Board of Natural Resources for outstanding contributions to the betterment of Georgia's natural resources.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 50 years, Ann Lee Barber, and a daughter, Anna Lee Barber. He is survived by his children, Leo Thomas Barber, III and his wife Shannon St. John of Durham, N.C., Nancy Barber of Decatur, Ga., and Brian Barber and his wife Roberta Barber of Decatur, Ga.; and five grandchildren, Leo Thomas Barber IV, John Barber, Anna Lee Barber, Laura Barber, and Benjamin Barber.

The funeral will be held at Trinity Baptist Church in Moultrie, Ga. on Saturday June 20 at 11 am, with visitation Friday night at Cobb Funeral Chapel from 6 to 7:30 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The Georgia Conservancy or the Georgia Botanical Society.

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12stargazers
Jun. 16th, 2009 06:49 pm (UTC)
I am very sorry for your loss. The most important thing to remember is that as long you and your family remember him and still live, a part of him will live on, too.

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Nancy Barber

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