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Kenneth Barber
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Kenneth Franey Barber, 86, died Friday, Feb. 5 in Fresno.

He was born to Ralph and Hilldred Barber, in Whitney, NE. He was a longtime resident of Escalon.

He attended schools in Chadron, NE, and Clarkston, WA, receiving his high school diploma from Clarkston High School in1942.

Mr. Barber worked in agriculture, or drove logging trucks and taxis until being drafted into the Army in 1943. He went to basic training at Fort Sill, OK and was assigned to overseas duty with the Army's 106th division in France and Germany for five months in artillery.

He returned to the states as staff sergeant, working as a combat engineer operating heavy equipment. He then spent time in San Diego and Menlo Park serving as post personnel. It was in Menlo Park in 1946 that he met "the love of his life" Sgt. Joy Paulus. After a short courtship, they were married in July that year in Palo Alto. Soon afterward, the couple relocated in Olympia, WA when he was transferred to Ft. Lewis to test different demolition processes. He received his honorable discharge in September 1947.

During this time, he learned to fly airplanes and got his pilot license. He also was a racecar enthusiast and helped form the Olympia racecar club.

He was employed by the State of Washington Industrial Workers injuries claim department, in construction worker capacity. In 1953, he and his family moved to Lewiston, ID working for Gray Webb Truck Service, specializing in diesel truck motors and hydramatic transmissions, with training classes at GM's Tigard, OR facility. He later became the service manager for Gray Webb Buick, GMC, Chrysler & Fiat agency.

In 1960, the family moved to Escalon. He worked for Bob Jones Chevrolet in Escalon and Erkenbrecker Chrevrolet in Oakdale. He later was employed at Labruceries Truck Service, Stockton, building special diesel truck motors. During that time he farmed winter wheat and milo, and worked with his brother-in-law building Ag equipment that allowed rice farming to be easier.

He began maintaining large processing equipment at Johns Manville Transit Pipe Division, Stockton, in 1964 until he retired in 1981. He also served as shop steward for the Machinist Union representing his fellow workers and their grievances about the harms of asbestos and other environmental issues. During that time, negotiations for lifetime healthcare for employees was implemented by Johns Manville.

In 1981, Mr. Barber and a few skilled colleagues from JM were employed by Del Monte's first "super cannery" in Modesto. He and his coworkers improved the production capacity of the plant by making the necessary changes to the plant equipment. He retired from Del Monte in 1987.

After retiring, he and his wife traveled across the U.S. to see old military bases where they had both been stationed, visited the East Coast and the Washington D.C. area. They traveled through the western U.S. and Canada.

He was a resident of Escalon for the past 49 years, where he contributed his time and energy to many community organizations. He was active with the Delta Sierra Girl Scouts troops as one that worked diligently on the Camp Menzies restoration projects annually.

He built floats for local parades for Enterprise 4-H, Brownies, Girl Scouts, MYF, Improved Order of Redmen and the Degree of Pocahontas. He and his wife chaperoned many 4-H dances.

He was a member of the Escalon Methodist Church for 47 years and was involved in Methodist Youth Fellowship, served the pastor-parish council, and traveled to state conferences and site work projects. He helped with many church fundraisers.

He was a member of Iroquois Tribe #35, Improved Order of Redman and Hiawatha Council #21, Degree of Pocahontas. He and his wife traveled to many of the different lodge events and functions throughout the state.

He was a lifetime member of the local VFW and American Legion Post 263 and marched proudly for the annual Veteran's Day parade in the color guard. He was emcee for several Veteran's Day parades. He and his wife were honored as co-grand marshals at the 2004 Veteran's Day parade, celebrating their service to their country and their community.

Always one to help others, he donated whatever he could to make other's hardships easier. At the end of the Vietnam War, he and his wife welcomed the enlisted soldiers from Sharpe Army Depot into their home for a holiday meal. It offered a home away from home the soldiers.

He loved his daily trip to the "Donut Shack" where he could hear the latest news around Escalon. Upon returning home from his morning trip, he would always say, "things in Escalon had been straightened out" by he and the donut shack group.

He also enjoyed attending his great grandson's football and baseball games.

He will be missed by all whose lives he enlightened with his tremendous energy, quick wit, vast knowledge, friendly smile, lively spirit and concern for others. The family thanks many friends, caregivers and neighbors who did so much to help the past few years.

He is survived by his children, Chris Barber of Escalon, Gaylen Barber of Stockton, and Christine Ballance of Fresno; brother, Don Barber of Clarkston, WA; sister, Lauretta Crabtree of Kooskia, ID; brother-in-law, Fred Paulus of Escalon; grandchildren, Kenneth Gonzales, John Ballance, Ruth Balance, and Jennifer Balance; and six great grandchildren; nieces, Kathy Barber and Terri Paulus; and nephews, Curtis Paulus, Michael Barber, Carl Crabtree, Larry Crabtree and Ray Crabtree.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 63 years, Joy.

Private family services were held in Idaho.

Remembrances may be made in his name to the Veteran's Administration Hospital, Palo Alto Fund 2202, 3801 Miranda Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94303; or to the Escalon United Methodist Church building fund, 2000 Jackson Ave., Escalon, CA 95320.

Deegan Funeral Home, Escalon, was in charge of arrangements.

The Escalon (Calif.) Times

Feb. 24, 2010