Last weekend, the Oklahoma sports landscape was rocked by the shocking and far-too-early death of KFOR sports director and WWLS radio personality Bob Barry Jr. in a motorcycle accident.
It was a solemn reminder that even larger-than-life figures like the 58-year-old Barry, who had a bright smile and infectious personality, can be gone in an instant.
It wasn’t necessary to know Barry personally to feel better for having met him. I met him on two separate occasions at college football games in the press box at OU, both in passing, yet each time he made a young, no-name sportswriter feel welcomed as part of the fraternity.
His cheery, down-to-earth demeanor made him easy to talk to and even easier to like. Everyone that met him had a quick, yet lasting memory of their meeting that brought a smile to their face long after.
Gazette advertising manager Randy Anderson shared a funny story about meeting Barry at a Sports Animal remote show at the grand opening of Great Plains National Bank in Piedmont in January of 2013.
Anderson shared the ad that ran in The Gazette promoting the grand opening of the bank and Barry’s presence there with Barry himself that January morning. His first reaction, ‘How’d you find a picture that made me look that good,’ Anderson recalled Barry joking.
He liked the picture so much he even thanked Anderson on the air later that morning. Barry had a rare ability to take a minute-long meeting and make you remember it for a lifetime.
Stories like those two poured in from near and far on tributes across radio and television throughout the weekend and into this week. Barry was an original. He was authentic. The smile for the camera was matched only by the smile he shared with strangers he met across the state.
His popularity transcended any sort of divide, be it Bedlam, high school rivalries, etc. Everyone liked Bob Barry Jr.
Those that knew him well, spoke of a talented, gifted man that often ad-libbed the 10 p.m. sportscast and had a flair for adjusting on the go. He, by all accounts, was a pleasure to work with and a great man to learn the business of sports journalism from.
BBJ took after his father, Bob Barry Sr. Together, they were the preeminent sources – and personalities – for sports news in the state for more than 40 years. Both were jolly, loved life and loved covering the sports – high school, college or pro – they had a passion for them all.
Even in death, Barry Jr. left us two important lessons about life.
He found what he loved to do, developed an unbridled passion for it and shared it with us all. For that we should all be thankful. The sports news will never quite be the same again.
Maybe most importantly, his death and the utter sadness and mourning that followed from so many who knew him well or just shook his hand and said hello once, showed that a smile, a kind greeting and a genuine caring for others, goes a long ways and has a lasting impact.
We’ll miss you, Bob.