Raymond H. Barber
Funeral Time: Saturday, December 9th at 11:00AM
Raymond H. Barber of Lexington, KY was born in 1922 and died just two hours past his 95th birthday at home and in the presence of his beloved daughter. Raymond was born in Sumner County, TN the second child of Charles and Ruby Barber. Raised in Allen County, he graduated from Allen County High School in 1943 and shortly thereafter joined the U.S. Army at the onset of America’s involvement in WWII.
Raymond would serve as platoon sergeant from 1943 -1946 in the 41st “Jungleers” Infantry Division, 186th Battalion Company C. The 41st was known among war correspondents as one of America’s “fightingest Divisions”. Commanded by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the 41st is credited with retaking the islands of Papua New Guinea, Wadke, Biak and Palawan. After the dropping of atomic bombs and subsequent Japanese surrender, his unit was the first of U.S. troops into Hiroshima. They were re-designated by MacArthur from combat infantry to military police (MP) and charged with law enforcement.
In January of 1946 Raymond returned to the U.S. and married Leona Hinton of Allen County. Soon, both would be enrolled at Western Kentucky University where she would earn a BA in Education, he a BS in Political Science and ultimately a Doctorate. Upon graduation in 1948 Raymond began his professional career in the Allen County School System where he would serve first as a history teacher. Over the next few years he would become the Principal of White Plains Elementary, Allen County Elementary and eventually Allen County High School.
In 1963 Governor Edward “Ned” Breathitt asked Raymond to run for the Kentucky General Assembly representing the 22nd House District. After receiving the backing of both “Happy” Chandler and Bert T. Combs, Raymond was elected to the seat and served two terms from 1964 to 1968. In 1968 the General Assembly passed a Resolution of Commendation recognizing Raymond’s many accomplishments including membership on eleven committees, serving as Chairman of the Legislative Affairs Committee, Vice Chair for Roads and Highways, and Vice Chair for Higher Education. While maintaining a robust schedule in the General Assembly he was also promoted to the rank of Major in the US Army Reserves. This would lead to multiple assignments at the U.S Army Provost Marshal General’s Office in Washington, D.C. before retiring from the Army after 23 years.
In 1972 Raymond’s work would find him in Frankfort serving in various capacities. First among them would be as Governor Julian Carroll’s Educational Advisor and Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction. Later, in 1979, Raymond ran for statewide office and was elected as Superintendent of Public Instruction. This would make him the first and only (to date) from Allen County to hold a statewide office. While serving as Superintendent of Public Instruction Governor John Y. Brown Jr. appointed him to simultaneously serve in the cabinet as Secretary of Education and Arts. During this time Raymond created many institutions which enhance the lives of ordinary people in Kentucky to this day. Among them are The Governor’s Scholars Program and vocational program centers which, in turn, created the foundation of numerous community colleges throughout the Commonwealth. He ruffled more than a few feathers when he implemented Kentucky’s first teacher accreditation standards. Next, he raised the anemic standards for public school accreditation while also raising high school graduation requirements to emphasize math, science and English. These measures would set Kentucky public education on a trajectory away from the bottom of national rankings to the more respectable station it holds today. His efforts nearly netted him an appointment to America’s first Secretary of Education under then President Jimmy Carter.
After retiring from elected office, Raymond continued to advise many Governors such as Wallace Wilkerson, Brereton Jones and Paul Patton while also serving on numerous boards and commissions. His retirement dinner would be hosted by all six living Kentucky governors…the only time this ever happened in the history of the State.
Still, of all the titles he would hold during his life the one’s he cherished most were husband, father and Christian. Well done Raymond, may you rest in eternal peace.
He is predeceased in life by his wife, Leona H. Barber. Survived by his daughter Nancy Barber Racicot and son-in-law Greg Racicot of Lexington, KY, brothers Russell Barber (Lois) of Indianapolis, IN., Maxie Barber (Joan) of Indianapolis, IN. and Lloyd Barber (Jean) of Franklin, KY. along with many cherished nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends.
Visitation will be held 5-8 p.m. Thurs., Dec., 7 at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home-Harrodsburg Rd., Lexington, Ky. An additional visitation will be held 5-9 p.m. CTS Fri., Dec. 8 at Harwood &Strode Funeral Home in Scottsville, Ky. Services will be held 11 a.m. CTS Sat., Dec. 9, at Harwood & Strode F.H. Burial will follow the service in Crescent Hill Cemetery in Scottsville, KY.