BWB -- An Analysis by Charles Dailey
The following biographical sketch of Burton Barber is taken from the folder available at his memorial service held in Portland in 1996. It was written and presented by Bill Paul. There was also a funeral service in Virginia.
Burton Willard Barber . . . husband, father, brother, preacher, college instructor, debater, Bible scholar, writer, printer, publisher, graphic designer, foreign evangelist . . . dedicated Christian. All of these describe our brother whose spirit left us to "be with Christ" on January 8, 1996 at Galax, Virginia where he had been serving as evangelist for the past several years. He was 77 years, three months and 23 days old when he died. His burial was at Galax, Virginia.
Brother Barber had suffered a heart attack a few years ago and this past August, while driving to Centerville, Iowa to preach on the Centerville Rally, he and his wife Opal were in a head-on collision which placed additional strain on his heart. The immediate cause of death was heart failure brought on by pneumonia.
Born In Sheridan, Wyoming September 16, 1918 to Hiram and Alma Barber, he was baptized into Christ in 1929 at the age of 11 by his uncle Errett Barber. His formal education for the preaching ministry began in 1938 (the same year as his ordination) when he was among the first students to enroll in Ozark Christian College when it was located at St. Joe, Arkansas. As a 20-year-old student, he and Kenneth Holsinger became known as "the Hiking Ozark Mountain Missionaries." In 1939 he enrolled in Christian Normal Institute in Grayson, Kentucky (later called Kentucky Christian College). He completed his formal education when he graduated from San Jose Christian College in 1946. He married Opal Kratzer on September 5, 1941 and is survived by her and their two sons, Douglas and Burton Dale.
His preaching ministry, which "started out among the anti-instrument people," spanned 58 years and included serving churches in Arkansas (Gentry), Missouri (Blendville), Iowa (Ottumwa, Centerville, Sigourney), Puerto Rico (San Juan, 1965-68, 1980-86), Minnesota (Fridley), Florida (Lakeland, Lake Alfred), Massachusetts (Northboro) and Virginia (Galax). During these years he also conducted scores of revival meetings all across the country and spoke on many rallies (Centerville, Rushville, Troutdale, Sacramento, San Jose, Coos Bay, Gering, Lexington, Cozad, Hamburg, Colorado Springs, Orlando and many other places).
Brother Barber was equally well known as a writer, having authored (or co-authored) over 15 books and booklets, besides designing many teaching charts and writing numerous articles for The Voice of Evangelism, which he co-founded in 1946.
He was also co-founder (with Donald G. Hunt and James R. McMorrow) of Midwestern School of Evangelism in 1947 and taught there for 17 years. Later he taught college classes in Florida, Puerto Rico and Massachusetts also.
In the 40's and 50's brother Barber became a nationally known debater, specializing in defending the use of instrumental music in debates with such formidable opponents as Rue Porter, Guy N. Woods, Will Thompson, Ira Rice, Carl Ketcherside, Roy Osborn, G.K. Wallace and James D. Bales (written).
The latter portion of his life was consumed largely with foreign evangelism. He served two ministries in Puerto Rico and established the Parkville church in San Juan. His chart designing, printing and publishing skills were put to exceptional use in preparing and shipping, mostly at no cost, multiplied thousands of charts, Bibles and other Christian literature to native preachers in the Philippines, Africa and elsewhere. In recent years these efforts have become widely known through his publishing of Caribbean News-O-Gram (then News-O-Gram) and most recently his newsletter, Spanish/English Evangelism from Galax, Virginia.
Brother Barber will be long remembered for his exceptional dedication to quality and excellence in whatever he set out to do as well as for his dynamic, rapid-fire delivery of sermons on rallies and in his revival meetings and debates.
Typical comments about brother Barber and his ministry: "He gave all his time, money and energy for the cause of the gospel and for anyone who needed anything he possessed" (Jaffet Perez); "He was an esteemed mentor who modeled excellence in communication - whether it was the spoken word or the written word (Victor Knowles).
Brother Barber, as a person, will certainly be missed, but even more than that, the effect and influence of his college instruction, preaching and writing constitute a loss that will be difficult, if not impossible, to replace.
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