Bob Barringer, 84, passed away at his home in Asheville on June 13, following an eight-year battle with Parkinson's.
Bob was born and raised in Albemarle, the son of Howard and Annie Lee Barringer. He was preceded in death by his parents and by his beloved foster brother Harry Pawlik who passed away in November.
Bob attended Albemarle High, graduating in 1950, and was a proud to be counted as one of Toby Webb's boys. He was an Eagle Scout and served 20 years in the US Marines, retiring as a Lt. Col. He believed in a life of service and contribution.
He attended Wake Forest for his undergraduate degree and earned his master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Florida. In the early 60's he joined the community college movement, then in its infancy, and went on to become one of the most respected community college presidents in the country. His first appointment out of college was as Vice President at College of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City. Within his first year, the president was fired and Bob became the new president at age 29, making him the youngest college president in the country! "It was a distinction I quickly aged out of," he often joked.
Bob served as president in colleges in Baltimore, MD and New Jersey. He left his presidency at Brookdale Community College in NJ at the height of his career to come home and be with his ailing father. He then embarked on a unique career path, that of professional interim president, often stepping into complex, difficult situations where institutions had fired their presidents and needed a steady hand at the helm. In that capacity, he developed a reputation for leading colleges through difficult times, raising morale and developed life-long friendships across the country. He served a record 11 times as interim president, from large urban colleges such as Seattle, Philadelphia and San Antonio, to smaller institutions in Wyoming and Williamston and Mayland colleges in NC.
He and his wife Kim MacQueen started Gold Hill Associates in 1990, a community college presidential search firm. To date, it has assisted 150 colleges in selecting new leadership.
In 2016, Bob received prestigious lifetime achievement award from the American Association of Community Colleges at its national convention. He received a standing ovation from 6,000 attendees, as well as commendations from the governor and legislature. But more important to him were the scores of students, faculty, staff and board members whose lives he touched over the years.
He and his wife Kim lived briefly in Gold Hill, NC before making their home in Asheville, where they have lived for 22 years.
Bob was universally beloved by colleagues. He was a man of character and integrity, a true Southern gentleman. Though his life lead him away from his hometown, he always credited his early life in Albemarle with making him the successful and caring person he became.
He will be interred at Riverside Cemetery in Asheville.
Published on June 29, 2017