The Reverend Dr. James Madison Barr died on June 10, 2009 at his home in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was 90. Rev. Barr was born on March 17, 1919 in Belhaven, North Carolina to James Madison Barr, Jr and Alice Way Barr. His family relocated to Virginia, where he attended Fork Union Military Academy, graduating in 1935. He continued his education at the University of Virginia, studying accounting and business before graduating with a law degree in 1947.
Following graduation, Rev. Barr taught at the School of Economics and Commerce at the University of Virginia. He also worked as an attorney, an accountant, and an auditor, was elected to the Charlottesville, Virginia city council and served as president of the Charlottesville Junior Chamber of Commerce. While in Charlotte, Rev. Barr became an active member of the Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church and in 1952, he entered Starr King School for the Ministry.
In 1954, Rev. Barr was ordained and installed at the Church of the Unity in Winchendon, MA, where he served for 2 years. In 1956, he was called to the First Unitarian Church of Albany, NY.
In 1962, he returned to the South of his childhood, serving the First Unitarian Church of Memphis from 1962 to 1982. Under his leadership, the congregation built an award-winning church designed by church member, Roy Harrover. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, its wall of windows allows full view of the Mississippi. Upon his retirement from the Memphis "Church of the River," Rev. Barr was named minister emeritus by his congregants.
Rev. Barr was active in denominational affairs, serving in the Southwest District as Settlement Representative, Good Offices Representative, member of the Southwest District Board of Directors, and as Chair of the Summer Institute. His community activities while in Memphis included membership on the boards of Tenn-Ark-Miss Council of the Girl Scouts, Urban League, and the Heart Association. He was also a member of the Memphis Community Relations Commission.
His friend and colleague, Rev. Burton Carley, current minister in Memphis, said "any minister stands on the shoulders of the minister who precedes him. Jim's shoulders were very broad. He had a deep mind and wonderful spirit. It was a privilege to succeed him."
Rev. Barr is survived by his daughters, Betty Barr McClure and husband, Clifton McClure, of Charlottesville, VA; Mary Alice Barr Colo and husband, Michael S. Colo, of Rocky Mount, NC; and Sally Barr Alexander and husband, Arlie A. Alexander, of Monticello, IL. He leaves his grandchildren, Sarah McClure Gfroerer and husband, Wesley Gfroerer, of Charlottesville, VA; Catherine E. Colo of Atlanta, GA; Christian A. Colo and wife, Amber, of Morristown, NJ; Craig M. Alexander and wife, Leslie, of Monticello, IL; and Lindsay Barr Alexander of Monticello, IL. He also leaves six great grandchildren and his beloved cat "Jesse".
Please send messages of condolence to Betty Barr McClure, 309 Dover Rd Charlottesville, VA 22901.