Community pays last respects to civic leader

February 10, 1997


Staff Writer

The sanctuary at Christ Lutheran Church in Hagerstown wasn't large enough to accommodate the outpouring of people who came Sunday to pay their last respects to Hagerstown businessman and community leader Jack Ellsworth Barr.

Pastor Raymond Shriver.said that at least 500 people attended the funeral service for Barr, 70, who was killed in a traffic accident in Fulton County, Pa., on Wednesday morning.

Extra chairs were added to the church sanctuary so it could seat just over 300 people. Others opted to stand along the back of the church, Shriver said.


The rest were seated in two makeshift chapels which were linked to the main sanctuary through a video camcorder and the church's sound system, he said.

Shriver said he wasn't surprised at the large turnout, considering how much Barr contributed during his lifetime.

"They had deep respect for him as a man and a good Christian man," said Shriver, who called Barr a good friend and a longtime parishioner and pillar of the church.

About 200 people at the funeral were fellow members of Christ Lutheran Church, where Barr taught Sunday School, served as Sunday school superintendent and helped out on various committees, Shriver said.

The rest were family members, friends and business associates, said Julie Strasburg, one of Barr's five daughters.

"My dad knew a lot of people," Strasburg said. "I think it's a tribute to him that folks came out to pay him respect."

As a Christian, Barr always felt it was his duty to serve his church, family and community, and he acted on his convictions, she said.

"My dad walked his talk," Strasburg said. "He was a man of integrity, and I think that's why he was respected so much."

Barr left a large family, including wife, Evelyn, seven of his eight children and numerous grandchildren.

A successful businessman, Barr quit high school in his junior year to join the Navy. It was there he received the electronics training upon which he built a small empire of electrical businesses.

In 1988, he opened the Family Recreation Park on U.S. 40.

Many knew Barr through the elaborate Christmas displays that lit up his family farm off Interstate-70 near the Frederick County, Md., line.

But Barr's public contributions - including membership in numerous service organizations, service on various boards and church activities - were only part of the picture, Shriver said.

"He touched the lives of a lot of people, and he did a lot of it really quietly," said Shriver, who described Barr as a quiet man who preferred to work behind the scenes. "He didn't like a lot of applause."

Barr tried to live his Christian faith by helping people in need - from children waiting for a foster home to Christian missionaries working with the poor in Mexico, he said.

Shriver said he remembers Barr buying old school buses which he'd pack with donations of clothing and shoes from local churches.

Barr would drive a bus down to Mexico then fly back, he said.

Daniel Cummins - who grew up in a missionary family the Barrs have helped over the years and is now a missionary himself - drove 33 hours from Mexico to attend the funeral service, which was customized with Barr's favorite scripture readings and lots of hymns, Strasburg said.

"It was a service of celebration and resurrection," she said.

After the service, the line of cars heading to Beaver Creek Cemetery stretched more than a mile along Dual Highway, Shriver said.

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