Today my friend Larry "Bear" Barton passed away. I can still remember the first day that he walked into church and into my life. Bear was a big guy with a huge heart. Helping others was a priority for him. When the company that he worked for began hiring a number of Spanish speaking workers, Bear began learning Spanish so that he could talk better with them. He became a friend and advocate for many. I'm sure that he will be sorely missed.
Bear's love and concern for others makes me think of the text found in Matthew 25:37-40 "Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." That is the way Bear lived.
One of my favorite memories of Bear was attending his 50th birthday party. I have never been to a birthday party like it. Richie Owens and Bear have been playing music together for over 15 years. Bear is a harmonica player extraordinaire. Richie rented the Ouachita Little Theater, and invited many musicians that he and Bear had played with over the years to come and jam.
BEAR BARTON AND RICHIE OWENS
Richie projected video on stage of Bear playing with a number of different musicians, with some of the video being a number of years ago. We enjoyed seeing Bear with hair.
The party lasted until late into the evening. Well late for me anyway, because I am even older than Bear. It was after 10:00 when the jam session ended, and then I enjoyed getting to visit with Bear for awhile. I am happy that I got to be with him at his birthday party.
Today the world lost a truly wonderful person. Someone who was always helping people and loved everyone. Goodbye and rest in peace my precious friend Larry "Bear" Barton, you will be missed by to many to count.
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I was born in 1956 in Madison, Tennessee, while my parents were attending Madison College. I grew up along the Front Range in Colorado, attending schools in Longmont, Brighton, Boulder and Loveland, Colorado. Two years after graduating from Campion Academy, I married my sweetheart, Regina. We lived in Loveland, Colorado for six years before moving to Mena in western Arkansas.
I love the people of Mena and the friendly easy going way of life here. I have owned and operated my own business since moving to Mena. I enjoy the natural beauty of western Arkansas and being out of doors.
My newspaper column in The Mena Star, An Arkie’s Faith, premiered on January 7, 2016. In March 2017, I published my first book, titled An Arkie's Faith, using articles from the column.