Obituary of Jerome "Jerry" Larry Barber
Jerome 'Jerry' Larry Barber left this world to be with the Lord Jesus on May 4, 2023. He is survived by his wife, Lillian Congdon Barber, and his son, Dr. Jon Larry Barber. Jerry was born on August 16, 1936 in Eagle Lake, Florida to Allie Lorraine Whiddon and Charles Morgan Barber, the second to youngest of five siblings, and of indigenous American ancestry. They were a poor migrant farm family in post-depression America. He excelled in sports: a high jumper at Winter Haven High School, and played football with coach Bobby Bowden at South Georgia college in Douglas in 1956. After a year of college at Georgia Tech, Jerry enlisted in the US Army; in 1959 he was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany in the same battalion as Elvis Presley. He was discharged after two years, then moved back to Florida, where he worked at Commercial Credit Corporation in Lakeland as a collections officer.
He met his lifetime partner, Lillian Ruth Congdon Barber, who was teaching at Winter Haven High, and they were married on June 30, 1963. He transferred his job to West Palm Beach for about a year, then moved back to Haines City. Their son, Jon Larry Barber, was born on June 29, 1966.
Jerry then furthered his education at University of South Florida with a B.S. in education in 1968 and Rollins College with a specialist degree to become a sports coach and physical education teacher, settling at Haines City High School, home of the Hornets. During his 30-year career, he achieved many goals and won many awards: coaching the state championship football team of 1973; coaching six state championship high school track teams; coaching several high school athletes who would become professionals and Olympians; having the high school track named in his honor; and being inducted into the “Florida Coaches Hall of Fame” in 1994. He was also an athletic director and assistant principal of discipline at Haines City High.
When he retired in 1998 from his successful career, Jerry continued doing other activities that he enjoyed: spending time with family, gardening, antiquing, and vacationing to beaches and mountains. He had a vacation home built in Ellijay, Georgia. Jerry was a past Haines City Kiwanis president, and an active member of the First Presbyterian Church of Haines City.
In his later years, he survived several bouts of cancer through therapy, but Lewy body dementia started to take its toll on his quality of life, and Jerry finally entered eternal rest on Thursday afternoon, May 4th. He was a husband, a father, a teacher, a coach and an example of overcoming adversity to become the best man that he could be.
A committal service will be held on Saturday, May 20th, 2023 at 10:00 am with military honors at Forest Hill Cemetery in Haines City, immediately after a gathering of friends will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Haines City followed by a memorial service at 11:00 a.m.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Jerome Barber, please visit Tribute Store