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Story Archives: Still missing Jerry and Barr
|Still missing Jerry and Barr|
The phone rang at 7:30 a.m. on December 10, 2006.
It was my good friend Bill Darsey. I could tell something was very wrong by the tone of his voice.
Then he dropped the bombshell on me.
"Joey, Barr and Jerry were killed in a plane crash this morning."
Everything just kind of went numb for a few seconds after that.
Obviously the details were sketchy. But as the day slowly moved along, those details became more detailed — and more painful.
The final report about a year later from the National Transportation and Safety Board told the story.
"On December 10, 2006, about 1859 central standard time, a twin-engine Cessna 310Q airplane, N69677, was destroyed when it collided with terrain while executing an instrument approach to the Waco Regional Airport, near Waco, Texas.
"The witness also stated that the weather was a low overcast, fog, rain "sprinkles", and mist. He said the cloud layer was above the height of the trees and that the visibility was approximately .5- to 1-mile. In addition, the witness said it was "very dark outside."
It was a business venture. Those two guys were two of the most energetic people I knew and they were always looking for something new to delve into with the enthusiasm of a coach visiting a five-star recruit.
The Barr and Jerry Show aired for three years on 107.1 The River up until 2004. It ws just a way for those two guys to give valuable exposure to area youth.
Jerry would start out each program with a Robin Williams-like, "Good Morning Miss-Lou."
Jerry was an outstanding athlete at LaSalle High School. When he moved to Vidalia, he became a full-fledged Viking.
It's hard to believe it has been five years. I can't even imagine what those two guys would have accomplished in the Miss-Lou if they were still around.
Both would have been highly involved in recreation.
Jerry would have had a lot of say regarding the recreation complex being built now in Vidalia. I daresay Natchez would already have one if Barr were still around.
When his sons, Cole and Chase played Dixie Youth Baseball, Barr helped bring state tournaments to Natchez, made sure the children in the league were treated like Major Leaguers.
Jerry told me once his biggest dream was officiating an SEC football game.
There's no doubting from here that dream would have been fulfilled. It would not have surprised me in the least to have seen him in Oxford last month officiating the LSU-Ole Miss game.
Jerry would be proud of the Jerry Roberts Fieldhouse at Vidalia High. It's too bad he wasn't around to see the finished product because of the many obstacles he faced in spearheading that project. Most people would have thrown in the towel.
When work finally began on the field house, Jerry would detour on his way to work to check out the work being done at the new field house.
Through the building process, Jerry spent a lot of time with former Viking coach Dee Faircloth and the other coaches. I can only imagine their conversations as they imagined what the new facility would be like on the inside. Jerry wanted the kids to feel as if they were playing in the pros.
Jerry also put the students first in his limited role as a school board member. He took office after being elected in April of 2004 after the election was postponed because of reapportionment and was not facing any opposition as he prepared for his second term.
"Jerry was one of my coaches, a parent and a real good friend," Faircloth said. "He was great for our program. I miss both of those guys. I had to try and stop Barr four straight years and that was not any fun. He was one of the greatest athletes Cathedral ever had and he remained a good friend."
Jerry never got to see his grandsons or granddaughter.
Graham Roberts, Jerry's son, helped coach at Vidalia High and is destined to coach again because he is that knowledgeable about the game and cares about young people. Graham and Kelsey Roberts were married on December 31, 2010.
Jerry Jr., was welcomed by step-sister Madison (2) on August 8, 2011.
Daughter Karianna Roberts gave birth to Cullen on Sept. 9, 2009.
Graham helped coach at Vidalia High before moving to West Monroe where he works for Goldman. Don't be surprised to see Graham back in coaching. Believe me, the coaching world needs more people like Graham.
Karianna is now a licensed cosmetologist.
I was one year behind Barr at Cathedral High. The first feature story I ever did was on Barr in his senior year when I was writing for The Wave, the Cathedral school paper.
Barr was one of the best athletes I ever covered in this area and certainly one of the most competitive. He walked on at LSU and earned a scholarship the hard way, as a running back and kick returner on the scout team going against the No. 1 units. He was forced to quit after two knee injuries.
When Chase and Cole decided to attend Trinity, Barr became a mover and a shaker at the school, while still being loyal to Cathedral.
It's no coincidence this amazing run that Trinity athletics have been on over the last several years began when Barr became involved in the athletic program.
Barr would be beaming with pride at what the Trinity athletic program has accomplished over the past few years, and would be just as proud of the success of Cathedral's football team the past two years.
Cole and Chase are both engaged now. Cole has been operating Natchez Monument Company the past two years. He also is the PA announcer at Trinity home football games.
Trinity's music playlist in the press box is still dubbed, "Barr's list."
Chase is living in Madison, Ms., and is working for State Farm.
Barr's son, Jack Daylon, is a fourth-grader at Trinity. Trinity athletic director David King said you can start seeing signs of an athlete with Jack.
"He really loves basketball," King said.
Barr's family suffered more tragedy Saturday. Barr's stepson, Preston Parish, a loan officer in Birmingham, was killed in an auto accident in Tuscaloosa. There's quite a reunion going on up above.
A bronze plaque which reads, "R. Barr Brown Training Room" above a fleur de lis with "A Champion is someone who gets up when he can't" written at the bottom adorns the new training room in the Trinity field house.
"Barr was like a big brother to me," King said. "He instilled a lot of things into this program we still use today."
It's been five years since that phone call. We miss you guys and we will never forget you. In your short time here on earth you made it a better place for a whole lot of people. Your legacy lives on. And we are forever grateful.
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