Bobby Orvel Barber, 72, of New Johnsonville, TN passed away on
December 20, 2021 after a long fight with cancer.
Bob was born in Jackson, TN on February 15, 1949 to Orvel C. Barber and
Enid Haney Barber.
Bob graduated from Waverly Central High in 1967. He served with the
U.S. Marine Corp at Camp Lejuene, NC and in Vietnam (1968-1969).
Corporal Barber was awarded the National Defense Medal, Vietnam
Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, two Purple Hearts, Combat
Action Ribbon and Rifle Badge Sharpshooter.
With a B.S. degree in Biology, Bob worked with the Tennessee Wildlife
Resources Agency and later, in construction.
In the 50’s, his family moved to New Johnsonville. Bob’s father, a pipefitter
foreman, worked to help build the TVA plant. Bob’s father and mother
built, with no outside help, the ranch house, barn, and more while living in a
small trailer at Trotter’s Landing.
In 1960, a company bought all the neighbors' properties and Trotter’s
Landing, where everyone used to swim and fish. The family sold out too,
and moved to New Johnsonville.
Now, Bob had a large group of friends. They fished, swam, built a fort in the
woods, hiked to the Indian Mound, and hunted.In high school, Bob was
well-liked and known by the nickname "Sleepy" due to his history teacher,
Mr. Knight who gave all students a nickname!
After graduating from high school in 1967, he announced to his mother that
he was going to UT Martin with his friend Bubba, who she treated like one
of her own. She said, "Well, have a good time boys. We'll see you back
here in a few quarters after you both flunk out." She knew trying to talk Bob
out of going to college with Bubba was useless. As a guidance counselor,
she saw what often happened to best friends in college.
Her instincts were correct. Bob flunked out.
Soon after, Bob borrowed her car to sign up for a welding class. When he
picked her at school, she knew he did not sign up for the class. She asked
if he joined the Army. He replied, “Nope.” The Navy? Another “Nope.” “Air
Force? ” “Nope.”Then she said, “Bob, not the Marines!” He ducked his
head and said, “Yep.”
Her heart sank, the tears came and so did the fear. Telling his father, who
was against the war, ended in an argument.
By Dec. 1968, he was on the DMZ in Vietnam. On his second day, he was
in a fire fight. He rose in the ranks to a Corporal E-4, and was severely
wounded twice. The second injury sent him back home..
He was different after Vietnam. While the physical wounds mostly healed,
the psychological wounds never did. The first day he was home, his mother
dropped a pan lid in the kitchen, and he hit the floor in a prone position.
But he had his family and an innate love of the river. Bob loved fishing, and
always caught the limit. He gave the fish to family and neighbors.The funny
thing was that he didn't eat fish! But after Vietnam, he never picked up a
After his parents died, he spent hours on the phone each week with his
sisters. He got along well with his neighbors, and we appreciate the
kindnesses extended to Bob, despite the fact that Bob was probably the
only Democrat on the street! Many thanks to Jerry and Susan who took
Bob to the hospital once he became very sick.
Bob was pre-deceased by his parents, Orvel and Enid Barber, and oldest
sister, Carole Ann Barber.
Bob is survived by his two sisters, Nancy Barber and Linda Barber(John
Bingham). He is also survived by his nieces, Sarah Dillard (John) and
Laura Bingham (Luis Pelaez) and his nephews, Dr. John Chambers Jr.
(Melanie), Daniel Chambers (Amelia), and Matthew Bingham (Audrey) and
a slew of great nephews and nieces!