Greenville County marked the loss of an influential and admirable member of the community with the Feb. 8 death of Joe Barron, 64.
As a founder of Habitat for Humanity of Greenville and an active community member, Barron lead an effort to launch the Upstate chapter of the organization.
Born in Anderson in 1952, Barron grew up in Athens, Ga., where his parents, Charles Edward and Lalla Farmer Barron still reside. He attended Athens High School, graduating with highest honors in 1970, Clemson University in 1974, and received a Master of Engineering degree from Clemson in 1977 before settling down in Greenville in 1984. He served as a deacon, elder and Sunday school teacher at First Presbyterian Church where he was a devoted and faithful member.
Barron was also a Troop 11 Boy Scout and Sea Scout Leader for 50 years, creating a lasting impact on 60 Eagle Scout’s lives. In 2002, Barron was honored for his service by carrying the torch for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games. He also worked for The SC State Parks Department, The Fletcher Group, and most recently H2L Consulting Engineers as a civil engineer. Barron loved, painting, story telling, and most of all, sharing his life with others, especially his grandchildren, said his son, Marshall Barron.
A true friend of Habitat
Monroe Free, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greenville, remembers Barron as a man with great faith and determination when they met seven years ago. “I quickly found out he had great renown at Habitat,” he said.
After presenting the program at a local church during the 1980s, the community was interested and formed a volunteer board. “When Joe started Habitat in Greenville, there were people who thought he was nuts, but he believed in it anyways, and because of that, 332 families were able to have affordable home ownership,” Free said.
Free said he spent a lot of time with Barron, listening to stories about how Barron’s Habitat team would start building a house, would end up short on building materials, but with prayer and his determination, things always seemed to work out. “He was not going to let those families with low income down, he was going to get them their house built, and that legacy is still strong,” Free said. Barron’s impact on Habitat remains a vital part of the organization until this day.
Leading by example
Although Barron stayed involved in the community on a daily basis, his family and his faith were at the center of his life.
“He was always there for everybody,” his son, Marshall Barron, said. “He never neglected anyone.”
Seeing his father actively volunteering and influencing others’ lives was a normal thing, Marshall Barron said. “My dad would be on TV, the news, talking about this idea he had and giving out our home phone number.”
He believes his father set the standard on how you treat people and what you do for people when they need you. Barron’s influence continues into Marshall Barron’s own family now.
“He gave me everything I needed to raise a family,” he said.
Barron is survived by his parents; wife of 37 years, Rebecca “Becky” Robertson Barron; his son, Marshall Barron and wife Liza of Greenville; his daughter, Jane Barron and husband David of Charlotte; his sister, Ruth Barron Long and husband Will of Nashville; his brother, Charles Edward Barron Jr. and wife Leslie of Athens, Ga.; and two grandchildren, Marshall “Davis” Barron and Elizabeth “Libby” Barron of Greenville.