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Robert (Bob) Barr

Dayton volunteer Bob Barr, 71, dies

January 13, 1999

By Mark Fisher

Bob Barr, irrepressible cheerleader and tireless volunteer for his native Dayton and its community organizations, died early Tuesday after a brief illness. He was 71.

Mr. Barr served as public information director for Sinclair Community College from 1969-87, and later served as associate director for development and information at Otterbein Homes. But it was his volunteer work--he volunteered for at least 40 organizations through his career--combined with his gregarious personality that introduced him to hundreds of Miami Valley residents.

His friends said it seemed everyone knew Bob Barr, and if by chance you didn't, Bob would make every effort to correct that oversight. Whether he was playing an antiquated air-powered calliope at parades and horse shows, dressing up as Santa Claus to entertain children at holiday parties or figuring out a playful way to boost Dayton during a Marvin Hamlisch/Dayton Philharmonic Super Pops concert in Dayton just a few weeks ago, Mr. Barr injected an infectious love of life into nearly every waking moment.

"He enjoyed life more than anyone I've ever known--every aspect of it. He just lived it to the fullest," said Janice Austin, who worked as Mr. Barr's secretary at Sinclair for nearly a decade. "And he just loved to talk to people."

A week before Christmas, during the pops concert, Hamlisch announced he would compose a song impromptu from any phrase given to him from an audience member. Sure enough, from the audience, Mr. Barr suggested, "It's Great 'N Dayton." After composing the piece, Hamlisch asked Mr. Barr what he did for a living. After replying that he was in PR, Mr. Barr remarked, "I put the 'sin' back in Sinclair"--a line that he used frequently, but perhaps never to a more uproarious effect.

It was vintage Bob Barr. "His spirit and enthusiasm for downtown was unparalleled," said Maureen Pero, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership. "And I can't think of anyone who was so much fun to work with."

Jerry Hauer, president of the Rotary Club of Dayton, said Mr. Barr, a past Rotary president, "put excitement into our weekly meetings."

It was Mr. Barr who insisted that the Rotary single out for recognition the waiters and cooks who provided the food Rotarians ate--"that was something the Rotary Club had never done before," Hauer said.

The Rotary will do something to memorialize Mr. Barr, perhaps by establishing a scholarship fund, Hauer said.

Mr. Barr's acquaintances said he learned last week he had cancer, then suffered kidney failure Monday. "He was very active right up to last week," Pero said.

Among the many organizations Mr. Barr served were the YMCA, WPTD-TV Channel 16, the American Cancer Society, the Dayton Art Institute and the Salvation Army. Mr. Barr received countless awards during his career; most recently, he was selected by the Senior Resource Connection for a Community Builder award for his volunteer efforts, and the Sinclair Alumni Association chose Barr to receive the David H. Ponitz Honorary Alumnus Award for his support of the college and its alumni association.

Sinclair President Ned Sifferlen said, "Bob Barr was first and foremost a cheerleader ... (and) we were certainly a beneficiary of his enthusiasm.

"Bob was a person filled with love and spirit and will be greatly missed by the students, faculty, staff, board members and alumni who knew him and were touched by him."

Mr. Barr's wife of 47 years, Barbara "Bobbie" Barr, died in October 1998.

Mr. Barr is survived by two daughters, Melissa Snyder and Laurie Shepherd, both of Columbus; and by six grandchildren.

Visitation is scheduled for 3 to 5 and from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at Routsong Funeral Home, 2100 E. Stroop Road. Services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Belmont United Methodist Church, 2701 S. Smithville Road.

CONTACT Mark Fisher at 225-2258 or e-mail him at

From: Stuart Weinberg
Subject: cb-kern: Bob Barr passed away this AM, 1/12
Date: 01/12/1999 10:15am

I'm very shocked and sorry to have to report that Bob Barr passed away this AM - my tremendous gratitude to Kern Executive Director Dave Steele for calling us up with the news....

Bob apparently had been doing well but was very recently diagnosed with liver cancer - only entered the hospital a few days ago. His wife Barbara had passed away from cancer just 3 months ago.

Bob was a counselor at Kern in the mid 1940's when Bill Young was the director and the camp was still at the bottom of the hill. But even most recent staff probably knew Bob Barr. He was at just about every Strawberries and Ice Cream, and, of course, he was not one to be sitting quietly in the back!

Bob joined the Camp Kern Board in 1960, chaired the Board in 1965-66, and became an Emeritus Board member in 1986. He was a recipient of Kern's Volunteer of the Year award. He chaired the 75th Anniversary Committee in 1985. When The Carl B. Kern Fund was established in 1987, Bob was among the charter Advisory Board Members, and more recently took over Chair duties since April, 1997.

In short, he embodied enthusiasm and positive spirits for both Camp Kern and the Dayton YMCA. He had such a stong belief in the value of camping and the YMCA, and worked tirelessly on projects to promote both. So much more will be written in the papers about all of his contributions to the community - and please feel free to share your thoughts here as well. We've lost a tremendous force today for the good of the Dayton area community.

As details become available on arrangements, I'll pass them along. Please email the list ( if you find out.

Stuart Weinberg


I was saddened this morning to learn of Bob Barr's death. How well I remember his wit and wisdom through all those years as a supporter of Camp Kern. Bob and Jack were such significant luminaries in my formative years at Kern that it is difficult for me to conjure up any memory of "Old Dogs" without their presence.

Please know that my prayers and thoughts are with Bob, his family, and the Kern family that your e-mails keep together.

Mike Sherman

Dear Stuart

Thanks for getting the word out to the Camp Kern community about the passing of our friend Bob Barr.

In the short ten months that I have been a part of the Kern staff, it was readily apparent the impact that Bob has had on Kern, the Dayton YMCA and the Dayton community. What an amazing man.... and a man with so much vitality. He took such unabashed joy from being in the company of others. He made everyone around him light up with his enthusiasm and the ability to make you feel welcome. Bob has been a tremendous ambassador for so many years and his presence will be sorely missed.

May God's loving grace be with Bob's family and friends as we learn to live in a world without this fine man.

Sincerely, Dave Steele

Stu, thanks for helping get the word out on Bob. I did not know he was sick until Sunday so hearing the info Tues. morning was quite a shock. I wrote the following last night and thought I would share it...
John Neff

Dayton is about to be reminded that sometimes you don't know what you've got until it's gone.

Bob Barr passed away Tuesday January 12th and leaves a void in Dayton's Heart. He will be missed. With selfless service, caring and boundless enthusiasm, he was a light which brightened our community. We can honor his memory by trying to incorporate part of his legacy into our own daily lives and carry the torch a little further. I don't know exactly what would happen if all the many many people who knew and loved Bob Barr were to do this, but I know what Bob would say: "isn't that wonderful".

Stu: Bob's enthusiasm was contagious. His committment to Camp and to Jack S. along with those many others had a tremendous influence on me and so many others. I am still in disbelief. God bless the life of Bob Barr.

Marty Erbaugh

Dear Kern Lovers.

Bob Barr's passing leaves a great void in Dayton and beyond. He was the one who encouraged Kent Barnheiser to ask me to join the Kern board and my father to become a member of the Central YMCA board. We were also Rotary friends. A terrible loss of a beloved man.

Marty Caskey