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Bye Bobby: Friends, family remember Bob Barry, Jr. at memorial service

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OKLAHOMA CITY - As we mourn the loss of our friend and colleague Bob Barry, Jr., we also celebrate the life he lived.

On June 20, 2015, KFOR Sports Director Bob Barry, Jr.  passed away from injuries he sustained in a scooter accident.

Comprehensive Coverage of the loss of Bob Barry, Jr. 

While his death has been difficult on all of us, we also know that he would be trying his hardest to make us laugh.

On June 26, 2015, his family and friends hosted a public celebration of his life at Crossings Community Church.

At the beginning of the ceremony, letters from his children were read.

All of his children said that Bobby would constantly tell them he loved them and was proud of them.

"He really didn't know how big of a deal he was," Tanner wrote. "What you saw in public was the exact same thing we saw at home. He was such a good, caring man who genuinely cared about everyone he met and always found good in someone, even when others couldn't. In a world where public figures can be fake, Bob wasn't. He wore his emotions on his sleeve and he never left a loved one or a friend without a kiss on the forehead and an 'I love you."

"About every single time I was with my dad, up until even two weeks ago when he came to visit me, he would look at me and ask, 'Do you know how much I love you?" Gracie wrote. "I would always laugh, or sometimes try and answer and I would always get cut off with, 'There's no way you could possibly know because it's that much.' He loved me so much and never ceased to tell me any chance he got."

"In one of our last conversations, he said, 'Evan, I'm an optimist. I think problems and kinks in life are fun because once they're done, you're proud of yourself and it keeps things interesting," Evan wrote. "I still can't comprehend the fact that he will not be here. I'm still waiting for him to walk in the front door and tell me everything will be okay."

"A father is neither an anchor to hold us back, nor a sail to take us there, but a guiding light whose love shows us the way.' I'm not sure who said it, as dad would definitely want me to cite my source," Matt wrote.

Kena Garrett, a close family friend, remembered how Bobby would always hold his wife's hand while in the car. She said they considered themselves a team, which meant they were always together.

Bobby's childhood friends described his mischievous nature as a kid, but said they didn't want to share too much because he may be forced to pay for his sins when he encounters his mother in heaven.

"He lived his life, making everyone feel like they were the most important thing in the universe, including me," said Robert Marriott.

Bob Naifeh talked about how Bobby was always in trouble, no matter which school he attended.

"We had Robin Williams before there was a Robin Williams," said Naifeh.

Bobby was even able to get in trouble during a school sanctioned snowball fight.

"To avoid total chaos at the school and significant property damage, [the assistant principal] took us out to the football field and we're gonna have an organized snowball fight. Bob packs his first snowball, like we all did. I don't know, I think he blew a whistle and Bob hums the snowball right at the assistant principal's head," he said.

During Friday's memorial service, Greg Blackburn had to immediately apologize for the story he told.

Bobby, a 16-year-old high school student at the time, decided it would be a great idea to streak through a junior high school.

"Junior jumps out, in the birthday suit that God gave him, a black ski mask and a pair of black, Chuck Taylor high tops. Pure class. He takes a deep breath and turns around and sprints for the door. And really, at that point, I couldn't believe it. I thought he was just going to get out and get back in the car and we would get out of there," said Blackburn. "The plan was we would circle around to the back side of the school, and pick him up, which we did. We got back there and 10 seconds later, the back doors bust open, it's about 100 yard sprint to get to us. They bust open and here comes Junior in a perfect sprint, just coming with about 12 to 15 little junior high kids riding on his a**. So I told you Junior's a pretty good athlete, he covered that distance pretty quick, it's about 100 yards. But those little junior high kids were fast too. He gets to me, and being the fun-loving guy that I am, yeah, I pulled off. I gave him another 50 yard sprint, just so he could enjoy the moment a little bit. He finally gets to the car, and he's had a pretty good run now. He gets to the car, opens the door, all those junior high kids get right there. They stop and they're looking at him with a combination of wonderment and disbelief. And he turns and looks at those kids, he lifts that mask up and he puked right there."

His childhood friends weren't the only ones who had stories about Bobby's crazy antics.

Many of his colleagues from KFOR took to the podium to tell stories about BBJ and his relationship with his coworkers, including his father.

Robert Allen, a former sports reporter at KFOR, told a story regarding Kevin Ogle's bachelor party that had previously been banned from being shared.

"The next day, Saturday, the rumors started flying around. Somebody saw Bob Jr.'s secret side and passed it along to station management," said Allen. "But I was sympathetic. Oftentimes, Bobby and I got each other in trouble, and we were in trouble together. This time, he was in trouble. So, the next day, on Sunday, there was a Big Eight basketball media days, one of Bob Sr.'s favorite assignments, and I overslept my alarm and missed the only flight from Oklahoma City to Kansas City. So here I come, slumping in the station on Sunday, and Bob Jr. goes, 'What are you doing here?' 'Missed my flight. Bob Sr.'s gonna kill me.' And Bob Jr. goes, 'Get in line.' Immediately, we started referring to the next day as 'Black Monday.' And when Bob Sr. came in, we were sitting at our desks, acting like we're working. Bob Sr. looks at Bob first and goes, 'You first.' Then he looks over at me and he goes, 'You second," Allen said.

Bob Sr. ended up suspending Bobby for two days for the stunt, and forced Allen to take over the shifts as punishment for missing the flight.

Even though Bobby was a professional at covering sports, his former colleague Van Shea Iven relayed a story from his high school days about one of his biggest blunders involving a sports team.

In high school, Bobby was on the bench for Norman High's basketball team as they were taking on Star Spencer.

Norman was up by five points with 17 seconds left on the clock, so the coach decided to put Bobby in. Bobby went into the game wearing four sweat bands on each arm, black glasses and a necklace covered in hundreds of beads.

After getting the ball out-of-bounds, Bobby threw it under Star Spencer's net and immediately knew he made a mistake.

Snake Gresham grabbed the ball for Star Spencer, scored and Bobby immediately rushed him and threw him to the ground.

"On the way down, Snake is trying to catch himself and his finger catches Bobby's necklace, beads scatter all over the court," he said. "Bobby turns around, yells at the ref, 'Come on, man!' The ref T's him up. He turns back around, and Snake Gresham is handing him the ball. Bobby take it, slams it down. 'Bleep,' technical number two. So Bobby slowly walks back to the bench, sits down with his head down. He looks up, there's coaches, players, administration, fans, his teammates, Star Spencer players all picking up little beads off the court. Snake got credit for the slam, he hit his free throw on the foul and made two free throws on the technical foul, two free throws on the second technical foul. Bobby looked at the clock, Norman was up five with 17 seconds. He looks up, they're now down two and not one second had ticked off the clock."

His friend and fellow sports broadcaster, Barry Tramel, talked about an overlooked fact that simply showcased Bobby's selflessness.

When Bobby was a senior in high school, the Norman school district changed its schools to include three middle schools, two junior highs and the high school.

That change also affected the high school's basketball team, which meant only juniors and seniors were allowed to play for the team.

Sophomores were set to be placed on the junior high team.

A lot of people were upset by the move, since one of Norman High School's best players was moved to the junior high team. One of those people was Bobby.

Bobby created a petition to change the rule and allow the sophomore back on their team. That petition was ultimately brought before the school board. The school board changed the rule back, and allowed the younger players back on the high school team.

Ultimately, the team went on to have a great season, led by their sophomore point guard.

"It's a great story, but did you catch the truth of that story? When a sophomore goes to the varsity and starts at point guard, somebody goes to the bench. Who's going to the bench? Bob Barry, Jr., he was the sixth man. He was a good player, he really was. He was gonna start as a senior on a really good basketball team. And he initiated the campaign to put himself on the bench. You know why these guys are so devoted to the guy they call Bobby? Because he was selfless that way," Tramel said. "We pride ourselves at The Oklahoman to be the last people to leave the press box, to be the last group to leave the press room in the arena.  But when we're not, after a playoff game or a big football game, as often as not, still working over there was Bob Barry, Jr. and his videographer. He could have shot his standup and went to the house. He could have left the videographer to do all the grunt work. But he was always right there with them. Those guys swore by him. Those guys from the 1975 Norman High basketball team, they swore by him. I don't know how he turned into the man that he was, but I can tell you the man that he was, he was that way a long time ago."

While his friends all know his character, everyone who ever saw him got a glimpse of his personality.

On one of his first sportscasts, he made a big blunder. He attempted to play an April Fool's joke by saying Barry Switzer had been dismissed from the University of Oklahoma.

There was one problem; he never let on that it wasn't real.

"The station phones lit up, reporters from across the nation were calling us. And so, at the very end of the sportscast, at the very end of the whole newscast, he came back on and said, 'I'm sorry, that was April Fool's. He's not leaving.' So he got off the set, walked back to his dad's office and his dad's standing there. He said, 'Give me one reason I shouldn't fire you.' And Bobby looked at him a minute and he said, 'I'm your son," Linda Cavanaugh remembered.

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Here is a link with comprehensive coverage on the sudden and tragic loss of our friend, Bobby. 

In Lieu of flowers the family requests you make donations to the Wounded Warrior Project

Click here to read Bobby's Obituary

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