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Published: 11/15/2009

Ex-union officer coached for CYO

MILLBURY - John C. "Jack" Barber, a longtime East Toledo youth football coach and a retired officer of his union local, died Thursday in St. Luke's Hospital of a heart attack.

He was 77 and hadn't been well since heart surgery seven years ago, his daughter Karen Steele said.

From the 1950s into the 1990s, he coached the Raiders, his Catholic Youth Organization team of fourth-through-eighth graders begun at the former Holy Rosary Church. It later was the East Side Raiders and drew members from across East Toledo.

"He touched a lot of kids' lives," said his daughter, who played for a softball team he coached.

He was both disciplinarian and mentor, said his son, John, a defensive end on the Raiders from 1969-72.

"He was a good role model," his son said. "He was tough, but he wasn't mean."

He was an inspiring speaker too.

Firing up his 20-member group to play a west-side team 50 players deep, he said, "•We can still beat them! It doesn't matter. You have to believe in yourself," his son recalled.

His teams won seven consecutive CYO Toy Bowl championships, said Tim Kamelesky, a player in the early 1970s. "He was good with every kid," Mr. Kamelesky said.

He was CYO coach of the year several times, his son said, and was in the Birmingham Hall of Fame. He also coached women's and men's softball teams.

He retired in 1992 as vice chairman and secretary-treasurer of Local 1664, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees. He was first elected in the 1970s, said James D'Anniballe, retired general chairman of the local.

"He did a good job at it," Mr. D'Anniballe said. "He was able to communicate with the people in the field."

After Air Force service during the Korean War, Mr. Barber built and repaired bridges and other structures for the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway - and later, as management changed, the Nickel Plate, Norfolk & Western, and Norfolk Southern.

Born April 24, 1932, he was the son of Mary and Irvine Barber. He grew up in Ironville, an East Toledo neighborhood cleared for urban renewal. He played football at Waite High School.

He liked to hunt rabbit.

Each spring, he pulled on his waders and joined scores of others in the Maumee River to catch walleye.

Surviving are his wife, Laura, whom he married Oct. 19, 1957; son, John; daughters, Karen Steele, Lynne Kontak, and Paula McGrady; sister, Janet Finn, and 10 grandchildren.

The body will be in the Heflinger-Bolander Funeral Home, Oregon after 5 p.m. today, with a recitation of the Rosary at 7 p.m. tomorrow. Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in St. Jerome Church, Walbridge.

The family suggests tributes to cardiac rehabilitation at Mercy St. Charles Hospital, Oregon, or St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis.



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