Posts Tagged ‘Bob Barr’

Robert George Personified the American Dream

November 12, 2013

Robert George, who  died of a heart attack Monday, recently told me, “Dick, when I see you, I think I should be marching behind you playing my trumpet.” That’s because he was a freshman in 1948 when I was a senior and drum major of the late Bob Barr’s Jordan Vocational High School Red Jacket Band.  He broke out his trumpet a few years ago and played with the Bob Barr alumni band at a memorial half-time ceremony at a Jordan-Columbus football game. He was CEO and  Chairman of the Board at Lummus Industries at the time.  Lummus was a manufacturer of cotton gins in Columbus.  It moved to Savannah.

I mentioned him in my Reader’s Digest article “Unforgettable Bob Barr.”  It was the story of a music man who inspired a lot of kids to do quite well  in life.  Robert George was a prime example of that.

As his obituary says, when he was with Lummus he traveled all over the world “with his favorite destination being the People’s Republic of China.” After retiring from Lummus, he became involved as an executive in a number of companies engaged in international trade, and he consulted with American companies wanting to do business in China.

He also lectured on international trade at universities in  the U.K.  Africa, and China, and a number of American civic clubs. He also served as President of Beacon College and Graduate School in Columbus from March 1998 to March 2000.

He was a fellow member of the Rotary Club of Columbus, where he served as president in 1991.

There will be a memorial service at Evangel Temple Wednesday, November 13, at 3 p.m. Visitation is from 5 – 7 p.m. today, November 12th, at Striffler – Hamby on Macon Road.  His obituary states that he is survived by his wife of 59 years Sara Crews Goerge, two daughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. You can read the full obituary in tomorrow’s Ledger-Enquirer.

Not only was he intelligent and successful in business, he had an upbeat personality and was fun to know. We’ll miss him.


The Most Unusual Funeral I Have Ever Attended

August 9, 2013

It was truly unique.  It was also very moving, especially for anyone who had played in a Bob Barr directed Jordan Vocational High School Red Jacket Band.  I was one of  the few in the Evangel Temple sanctuary who had done that.   I was in the original Bob Barr Jordan band that was formed in 1946 when he came to the school.  Jimmy Cross, who died this week in Newnan of heart disease,  became a member about six years later. 

More than 20 years ago, Jimmy, along with other Jordan band alumni, formed an alumni band to play at a Jordan-Columbus football game half-time show that memorialized Bob Barr shortly after he died.  My contribution was to announce the show on the public address  system at Kinnette Stadium.  So many Jordan alumni showed up that the stands were packed. When the band came on the field playing the band’s signature “St. Louis Blues March,”  the crowd jumped  to its feet cheering.  I almost couldn’t speak my next lines I was so moved.  I wasn’t alone. There were a lot of tears in that  stadium that night.  My article in the July, 1991 issue of  Reader’s Digest tells the story.

  The band did not disband after that night.  It morphed into the Bob Barr Community Band, which is now made up of alumni from many high schools,  and, at Jimmy’s request it performed at his funeral.  He was also a member of the 17-piece Cavaliers, which also performed today at his funeral.   

It was a Christian service, but none of the songs played were hymns.  The Cavalier’s opening number was “Stars Fell on Alabama,” one of Jimmy’s favorites.  It also  played Count Basie’s swinging “Good News,” another  of his favorites.  For the closing number, most of the Cavaliers players got up and joined the Bob Barr Community band. 

Gene Kelley, who played first-chair trumpet and was the JVHS band president when I was the drum major, wowed the crowd in  the stands at a Jordan half-time show in 1947 when he played a solo of “Stormy Weather.”  It was so popular that he did it again the next year, and it became a tradition and the band’s first-chair trumpet played it for a number of years.  Jimmy played it when he became first trumpet.  Before Gene died he asked Jimmy to play it at his funeral, which he did, and today it was played for Jimmy by Bill Edwards and the community band.    

Following the service, the band played a 25-minute concert, which did include a hymn, and ended with the band playing the “St. Louis Blues March.”  Very special, indeed, for a very  special trumpet player, husband, father, grandfather, bank chairman, and, certainly not least of all, musician.

Our Education Crisis -Part 4

October 13, 2010


If the teacher is the key to the quality of education, then we can only hope we’ll get more of them like Bill Pharris, who died Monday.  Like my life, his was greatly and positively affected by a teacher, the late Jordan Vocational High band director and Columbus Symphony conductor Bob Barr.

Mr. Barr – all of his former students will forever call him Mr. Barr – taught both of us, at different times, the value of self-discipline and working collaboratively with others to achieve success. In my case, he also put me in touch with a mentor at WDAK Radio in Columbus who helped me get my start in broadcasting. In Bill’s case, he went on to become what Barr was, a music teacher who changed many young lives for the better.

Bill, who directed a number of high school bands, including Hardaway where my son had performed under the baton of David Gregory, another inspiring and entertaining tough band director who turned out championship bands and students. Bill also directed the Bob Barr Community Band for a year.

No matter whether it is music, or math, or any other subject, what we need are more teachers like Bill Pharris and his mentor and mine Bob Barr.

George Corradino Retires from the Bob Barr Community Band

July 15, 2009


George Crradino conducting the Bob Barr Community Band, Springer Tehater, Columbus, GA

George Crradino conducting the Bob Barr Community Band, Springer Opera House, Columbus, GA

What a way George Corradino picked to debut on Facebook.  In his very first message he tells us he is retiring from the Bob Barr Community Band.  

George – if I wanted to get formal I would say Dr. Corradino, but I have considered him a friend for 40 years so I guess I’ll say George – came to Columbus at the suggestion of Bob Barr.   George left as an assistant band director at Auburn to become director of the Columbus High School Band.

This is all very personal for me since the late Bob Barr was my band director and had a lasting, and positive, affect on my life.  I was the first person he selected to be the band’s drum major. After I graduated in 1948, the band continued to grow and he took it to great heights, doing well in a band contest in Chicago and winning one in New York.  My late nephew Jack Gibson played in George’s Columbus High Band and George had a tremendous affect on him. My late sister Betty, Jack’s mom, told me that the only thing that kept Jack in Columbus High and got him on track to being a good student was George Corradino and that band.  Jack went on to get his PhD at the University of Alabama, and was Vice President of Development for Kennesaw State University when he died.  Kennesaw State  named a building for him, Gibson Hall.

When Mr. Barr – he’ll always be Mr. Barr to me – died in the late 1980’s, George headed up the Jordan Alumni Bob Barr Band to play a half-time show at a Jordan-Columbus game in honor to the memory of his friend and fellow band director.  Jordan alumni who had played in a Bob Barr Jordan band came from all over the country to play in that half-time show.  It was a very moving event.

That band morphed into the Bob Barr Community Band, with the big difference being that you don’t have to be a Jordan grad to play in it.  George has led that band for most of its 20 year’s existance.  I emceed the band’s very first half-time show and first concert and, at George’s request,  the 20th anniversary concert.

As well as leading the Columbus High, HardawayHigh, and Jordan High bands – he filled in for six months when Mr. Barr left until Jordan found a new band director – he played with a number of Columbus dance bands, including the 17-piece Cavaliers, which he now also leads.   

George Corradino playing a solo with the Columbus Community Orchestra at Hardaway High School, where he ad been that school's first band director, Columbus, GA

George Corradino playing a solo as guest artist with the Columbus Community Orchestra at Hardaway High School, where he had been that school's first band director, Columbus, GA

He is a very generous person.  For instance, he has played solo performances at many funerals, and not just for Columbus musicians but others as well.   He loves music, and he loves musicians, and he deserves all of the admiration that the community can give him.  His contributions to the area are enormous, and that includes his educational contributions. He was the director of the Muscogee County School District music program for years.

Thanks, George Corradino, for what you have done for music and musicians in our area.

The Return of Eric Barr

April 11, 2009
Not too long after Bob Barr came to Jordan High in 1946 to become the school’s first full-time band director,  band members, including me, became aware that he and Annie Barr had a baby.  A few years later, when Eric Barr wasn’t much more than a toddler,  he was dressed in a drum major’s uniform and marched beside the band’s real drum major.  He had become the band’s mascot.  In time,  he would become the real drum major, himself.
Eric Barr, Jordan Red Jacket Band 1963 Drum Major, from JVHS yearbook (courtesy Barbara Motos)

Eric Barr, Jordan Red Jacket Band 1963 Drum Major, from JVHS yearbook (courtesy Barbara Motos)

Over the years, growing up as the first son of accomplished musicians and educators, Bob and Annie Barr,  he became quite proficient in playing the oboe by the time he became a member of his father’s band.  He was so good that he later ended up as the principal soloist of the Dallas Symphony, a world-class orchestra. 

There were some stops in between.  He went to Oberlin College,  where he met and married Cathy,  who also plays the oboe.  After that, he played in the United States Marine Corps Band in Washington for four years.  “I was drafted,” he told me.  “I could go into the Army and serve two years,  or I could go into the Marine Corps and play in the Marine Corps band for four.  I choose the Marine Corps.”  That had a number of perks, including not having to take basic training.  

Serving those four years was quite memorable for him because he spent a lot of time playing for events at the White House,  because the Marine Corps Band is considered  “the President’s own.”  Jimmy Motos,   respected Columbus educator, musician, clarinetist, vocalist,  announcer for the Bob Barr Community Band, and actor,  and Eric’s best friend in the Bob Barr Jordan Band,  told me that Eric played for both the Johnson and Nixon administrations.  “He played for the weddings of both Johnson and Nixon’s daughters. Eric told me that things were more laid back when Johnson was in the White House – you know,  Southern hospitality and all of that.  But, Nixon was more formal.”



Eric brought down the house at the Bob Barr Community Band concert at the Springer on Friday, April 3, 2009, when he played an oboe solo.  And, I believe it wasn’t just because he is Bob Barr’s son,  but because the performance was so outstanding,  but then,  that’s what you would expect of man who was the principal oboest for the Dallas Symphony for 33 years before he retired.

Not only did he and Cathy contribute their musical services by playing with the Bob Barr COmmunity Band,  but after dress rehearsal on Thursday night, he presented a check for $1,000 as a gift from the Barr family, which includes his mother,  a sister and a brother. 

I told him, “Not only did you come and play for the band, you left a thousand bucks with it. That was really special.”

“I should have done it long ago, ” he replied.

Yes, it was a very special concert at the Springer,  one I was happy to announce. While, Jimmy  is the regular announcer,  I was asked to announce this concert because I emceed the first concert of the band twenty years ago.  Since the band was formed as a tribute to my Jordan band director Bob Barr,  I was honored to it then and now.

Dick McMichael, Jimmy Motos,  announcers for the Bob Barr Community Band (Photo: courtesy Barbara Motos)

Dick McMichael, Jimmy Motos, announcers for the Bob Barr Community Band (Photo: courtesy Barbara Motos)

George Corradino Keeps Amateur Music Alive and Well in Columbus

December 6, 2008

   If you want a good example of just how active a person pushing 80 can be, look no further than George Corradino. He teaches two classes at Troy State University’s Phenix City campus;  conducts the Bob Barr Community Band,  which rehearses just about every Monday night; leads the choir at St. Anne’s Catholic Church; plays for funerals and weddings: and leads the 17-piece Cavaliers Big Band.

George Corradino and the Cavaliers playing a luau dance at the Mr. and Mrs. Club, Columbus, GA

George Corradino and the Cavaliers playing a luau dance at the Mr. and Mrs. Club, Columbus, GA

  Just get a load of what he is doing this weekend. Tonight and tomorrow, he is leading the Cavaliers in a musical drama at Evangel Temple called “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” The band will provide the music of  World War Two  for the play.  It will be a nostaglic look at WW II and feature the music and famous radio shows of the 40’s. Having been eleven years old when the war started, I remember those days vividly, those war years Chistmases,  and plan to be at the Sunday evening performance.  Tonight’s performance is at 6, and the Sunday performances are at 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 pm.  

Evangel Temple)

"I'll be Home for Christmas" pamplet (Courtesy: Evangel Temple)

Then Monday, George will be interviewed at noon on WRBL and I’ll be on the 5:30 WTVM newscast to talk about Monday night’s Twentieth Anniversary Concert by the Bob Barr Community Band. On top of conducting the band, before that, he will direct the music at St. Anne’s for a mass.

  “You like to stay busy, don’t you,” I said to George.

  “I always have, Dick. And I just love doing what I do.”

  And what he does is provide a tremendous music service to this community. My hat’s off to him.

  Hope to see you at the Bob Barr Community Band Twenitheth Anniversary Benefit Concert at  7:30 p.m, at the Jordan High auditorum. Admission is $5 and the current band gets the proceeds. Since I emceed the very first concert in 1988, George asked me to do this one. I’m honored.

Bob Barr Community Band’s Twentieth Anniversary Concert, Monday, Dec. 8, 7:30 P.M. at Jordan High

December 2, 2008

  High School memories flowed into my consciousness last night as I listened to the Bob Barr Community Band rehearse for its twentieth anniversary concert. I was there because my old friend Dr. George Corradino asked me to emcee the concert since I emceed the very first one twenty years ago.

  The Bob Barr Community Band was formed in 1988 and named in honor of highly successful Jordan Vocational High School band director Bob Barr because of his legendary contributions to his students at Jordan between 1946 and 1962. His Jordan bands won national band contests in cities such as New York and Chicago. He was also conductor of the Columbus Symphony from 1951 to 1962.

  Hearing a band from the inside is different from out in the auditorium, especially when you are playing an instrument. It goes beyond verbal description, just as music does that. It’s emotional, just as music is emotional.  I took this picture because this is where I played a snare drum, and sometimes a set of drums, with the original Bob Barr Jordan Vocational High School Red Jacket Band sixty years ago. Well, actually we rehearsed on the stage of the school’s one-thousand-seat auditorium because this band room hadn’t been built yet. 

Bob Barr Community Band Rehearsal, Jordan High, Columbus, GA

Bob Barr Community Band Rehearsal, Jordan High, Columbus, GA

  It is an extraordinary experience because you are a part of the whole that produces what can be – if you do it well – extremely moving results as the band, or orchestra, releases the emotion of great composers such as Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Sousa, Gershwin and others.  I took this picture from the percussion section because that was where I experienced the unforgettable conducting of the demanding, but highly inspiring Bob Barr.

  Remembering this, I can understand why these former high school band students come together to play for community events. They simply enjoy doing what they enjoyed doing most in high school. And this band plays for a lot of community events. 

  Monday night’s Twentieth Anniversary Concert will be at the Jordan Vocational High School auditorium starting at 7:30. Admission is $5. All proceeds go to the current Jordan High band.  Not only will you hear popular Christmas songs like “Sleigh Ride,” “Ring of Joy,” and “Christmas Classics,” but an original composition by the late Bob Barr, as well as such favorite marches as “Them Basses” and “The Footlifter.”

  Again, it’s Monday, December 8, 2008 at 7:30 at Jordan High auditorium, admission $5, with procedes going to the current Jordan band. Hope to see you there.

Who Benefits From Ron Paul’s 3rd Party Endorsements?

September 11, 2008

  Former Georgia U.S. Representative Bob Barr lost an important endorsement when Ron Paul endorsed all of the third party candidates for president but him. Instead of sharing in Paul’s endorsement, he invited him to run on the Libertarian ticket as Barr’s Vice President. Paul’s not interested, and was not happy at Barr when he didn’t show up to share endorsements with Ralph Nader, Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney, and Constitutional party candidate Chuck Baldwin.  His absence caused Paul not to endorse him.

  How could Paul endorse people like Nader, McKinney and Badlwin? For one thing, the Atlanta Journal reports, they all signed statements saying they support limited government, personal liberties, bringing U.S. troops stationed abroad home, and for an investigation into the Federal Reserve.

  It would be interesting to know how many Paul supporters also support Ralph Nader and Cythia McKinney. I would not think many. It would also be interesting to know how many will still support Barr? Where do they have to go if they don’t support Barr? Baldwin?

  Glenn Beck got a pretty good interview with Paul about this and the Freddie Mac-Fannie Mea government bailout.