Friday, December 2, 2011

Goodbye Bear, For Now

Me and Bear
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 and Richie

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.


  1. May he rest in peace .
    Blessings sent his way from Canada.

  2. I am so sorry for the loss of this great man.

  3. My cousin Bear Barton was born with a tender heart, which only deepened and expanded through out his too short stay on this earth. He was born caring - about animals, who are easy to love, and about people, who are not.

    He was a healer, who knew how to come alongside those who were hurting and listen, and gently guide, and he would tell you straight up what he felt you needed to hear...and then again, if you needed reminding.

    He healed his wolves, cooking special meals for them, patiently nursing them through injuries and illnesses, never neglecting their needs, even though it could be totally time consuming sometimes.

    And he mentored so many young people, keeping them accountable, being the one who cared whether they messed up their lives, and encouraging them to give life another chance.

    When I heard the doctors' diagnosis: heart failure, I had to disagree. Bear's heart didn't fail. Bear's heart triumphed, and this often bitter and despairing world will never be the same because of him.

    I appreciate reading what you had to say about him, and especially the text from St. Matthew.

    Carol Hunter Southwick in New Jersey