Jim Barber, in memory of his older brother Tom.
And so the heartfelt notes, messages and memories began pouring in, in response to the passing of a NW Oklahoma standard bearer, Thomas Eugene Barber. Tom, as he was known to friends and family, was born on November 20,1947, to Woodrowe & Opal Barber at Shattuck’s hospital. He was the third child and oldest son of what would be a tightly knit family of seven children. The Barbers made their living just south of the South Canadian River where they farmed and ranched on what would come to be known as the “home place.” In 1950, they moved to Ioland to grow cotton and raise cattle on some fertile land southeast of Arnett, OK.
In 1959, the family moved to De Beque in Western Colorado. They ran cattle and raised alfalfa hay. Tom got to do more of what he loved and spent a great deal of time on horseback and on cattle drives. The Barbers lived near the Etcheverry family and became great friends (this will be an important note in a few years).
When Tom was 16, Woody & Opal moved their expanding family back to the home place near Roll, OK. Tom graduated from Crawford in 1966. He bought a 1962 Ford Galaxy convertible as a senior with money he made harvesting and headed for Oklahoma State University (OSU).
While attending OSU, Tom fell in love with and married Paula Schatz. Their first child, a daughter named Kenya, was born in Stillwater in 1968. And a family legacy to support the Orange had begun. He loved his black and orange: Ride’em Cowboys! His 1971 matriculation in Agricultural Economics prepared him for work with livestock and finance in a variety of jobs, eventually taking Tom, Paula and Kenya to the Panhandle of Oklahoma. Tom worked at Wheatheart and then joined Steve Caldwell at The First State Bank. Tommy Williams came on board at the bank and they would remain lifelong friends. Never one to be too far away from his family for too long, Tom moved back to Arnett, OK, in 1977 with Paula, Kenya and son, Thomas Trenton Barber (born with much fanfare in Clinton, November 15, 1972). He went into business with his father Woodrowe and brother, Jim. They started the Barber Cattle Co. in the mid ‘70s and ran it until the early ‘80s. Tom started his own cow/calf operation with his family. It was all hands on deck to manage the land and large herd, so Tom brought in fellow cowboys like Grady Suthers, Rich Patterson and Todd Atha (who became part of the fam). These were days of early morning cattle work and hot afternoons at the river. One winter, when the Mark “Buzz” Bradshaw bridge was out, Tom turned the hill toward the bridge into a slalom slope.
Tom and his family lived on the John Dunn ranch, south of Arnett. There was enough land to host the Snow Family Reunions, calf-fries and group hunts. The house and nearby Dunn land are now part of the State Wildlife and Game Reserve. Tom and Paula divorced in 1987 and after “some rough and rocky travelin’” were friends to the end.
In 1986, Tom took a position with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in rural development. He worked for the USDA until he took retirement in 2011. He was especially proud of the funding he secured for small towns, especially helping rural Oklahomans with housing, projects to benefit kids and small businesses. “Bev, I think I’m in trouble.” “Oh, I think you are, Tom.” It was at a High School Reunion dance in Colorado that he was reunited with the ever-lovely Lenore Etcheverry. Their friendship was rekindled, and romance blossomed. Soon, she & Tom were married. and he lured her and her son, Taylor Jones, to Arnett, OK.
With a little, faithful sidekick in tow, Tom invested in his land to expand his cattle enterprise. Taylor took to cowboyin’ and loved being mentored by his new Dad.
Now, it is a tricky feat to condense a well-lived life such as Tom’s to a few pages; likewise it’s unfathomable to briefly surmise the impact grief has on a parent at the loss of their beloved child. Simply said: the sudden passing of Trent in 2013 left a gaping, unhealed hole in his heart.
After retirement, Tom went back to full-time cowboying and cattle ranching. Working with the land and spending time on horseback came naturally to the ol’ cowboy. He partnered with Garry Brown for a few productive years. And, at the time of his death, had established a cow/calf operation with his son, Taylor.
Children were always a source of joy and delight for Tom. And when Taylor and Laura gave him his first grandchild, well, it was love at first sight. Milly spent days with Grandma and Papa while her parents worked. Getting to see Milly every afternoon when she came home from pre-K this August was more excitement than Tom’s little pea picking heart could stand!
Tom is preceded in death by his mother Opal, father Woodrowe and son Trent.
He is survived by his loving wife Lenore Barber, son Taylor Jones, partner Laura Murdoch and granddaughter Milly Jones; daughter Kenya Barber and husband Nathan Aldrich. He will be desperately missed by his brothers and sisters Beverly, Mary Lou, Jim, Blaine, Terry and Dana along with many wonderful nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews and other much loved Snow and Barber family members.
Internment of Tom’s ashes is scheduled for 10am on 9/24/22 at Pie Flats cemetery; following will be a gathering at his and Lenore’s home.
“Well, shug … I guess that’s all she wrote.” In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the American Cancer Society.