Lieutenant Commander Luther L. Barr USCG (Retired), 91, passed away Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at the UAB Hospital, in Birmingham, AL.
Born November 4, 1928 in Shreveport, LA, “Sonny” was the son of Luther Laken Barr and Irma Louise Zahnd Barr. Sonny spent his early childhood in New Orleans, then
returned to Florence, AL, when his father contracted tuberculosis. In the Jacksonburg community, he grew up with his friends and relatives. He obeyed the Gospel and met his future wife, Nona Lee Behel Barr. At 15, he worked aboard a riverboat to earn passage to Chicago. The Continental Baking Company hired him. His pay allowed him to pay for a place to stay, food besides Twinkies, and enough to send some back to his mom. He studied to be a certified electrician. Sonny then got a one-way bus ticket back to Florence and sat next to a Coast Guardsman who told him sea stories. The local Florence electricians’ union would not admit him since he was under-age. Instead, he enlisted in the U. S. Coast Guard and retired 23 years later at the Lieutenant Commander rank. Sonny served along our shores from Maine to Alaska, north Atlantic, Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, Vietnam, and in the Aleutian Islands. His last station was in New Orleans as a marine inspector. Sonny retired in 1970 and applied his marine engineering expertise to the ship repair industry. First in sales, then building his own company, Louisiana Maintenance & Repair Company with Mickey Savage. When Nona’s aging parents needed assistance, he retired to the family farm in Zip City, AL.
Sonny always found a way to connect with the folks he met. He shook your hand, and really listened. He remembered your story when you met again. His keen observation and wit were fun and challenging. He was quick to laugh at himself and to laugh with others.
As a romantic, he filled Nona’s college dorm room with red roses then offered a no-nonsense proposal. As a husband, he was faithful, attentive and forgiving. As a father, his mixture of seasoned woodsman and lore master made walks in the woods an unforgettable adventure for daughter and grandson alike. As a Christian, he quietly supported countless individuals who were in need of education, healing and love. As an officer, he was compassionate and honest. As an entrepreneur, he was a man of integrity. As a farmer, he solved problems and enjoyed the bounty. As a grandfather, he joyously shared his creativity and wisdom. As a home-bound elder, he cheered up those who visited as much if not more than they cheered him.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Dr. Nona Lee Behel Barr, daughter, Dr. Lori Lee Barr, son-in-law, Dr. Steven Richard Dent, grandson Richard Barr Dent, sister, Louise Barr Patty of Maryville, Tennessee and brother, Richard Johns Barr of Nashville, Tennessee. We who remain are grateful for the support of family, friends, caregivers, and professionals especially during the last three years.
If Sonny ever told you the difference between a sea story and a fairy tale, or to “smile every chance you get,” or touched your life in some other way, please join us to celebrate Christian life as Sonny chose to live, on Saturday November 23, 2019 at Turtle Point Yacht & Country Club, Killen, Alabama. Brunch and story-swapping from 10:00 AM to 11:45 AM, eulogy and military honors at high noon. You may enjoy making a donation in honor of Luther Barr, memorial ID #11802490 to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis TN on-line, by phone or mail.
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