Obituary: Oris V. Barber
Grandfather, bicycling enthusiast, traveler, worldly extrovert
Oris V. Barber, age 86, died peacefully on May 5 following a stroke.
His friends knew him best as the “crazy guy on a bike” who pedaled over 115,000 miles across he U.S. and Europe, sharing his journeys via his well-followed blogs. He never met a stranger, and they immediately became his “newest old best friend.” Oris is the common thread to many friendships formed with people across the globe. He had a knack and passion for making friends and connecting people.
He grew up in Panama City, Florida, and loved St. Andrews Bay, where he spent his childhood fishing and mucking around with his younger brother Charles and friends. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps after high school and was fortunate to be stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. He often talked of his time in Italy, the coffee, the motor scooters and the beautiful women.
Following his service, he attended and graduated from Florida State University in Tallahassee, where he began his career in human resources. Throughout the years, he worked across the country at numerous universities as a human resources director until he found his true home in 1986 at the University of La Verne. Once retired, he continued to spend his time kayaking,
pedaling, and meeting his friends in the “liars club” for coffee or lunch.
In Claremont, one thing you could count on, besides the beautiful weather for most of the year, was finding him bobbing around town from place to place, hitting all his local favorites. He was a larger-than-life fixture around town, and many depended on his daily doses of wisdom. His philosophical approach to life would lead to long discussions which would include edge-of-your-seat stories and adventures.
He was a true man-about-town, who dressed in only the most practical of fittings: a wide brimmed hat, a small messenger bag, sunglasses, a safari-type button down, because of course it had vents that allowed air to flow while he cycled, khaki shorts or pants, depending on the weather, and his beloved Keen shoes which were the only ones he would ever consider wearing on his long bicycle tours.
He was a worldly man, pouring himself fully into geopolitical topics and learning everything there was about the issues that mattered to him. He was a foodie who loved to try new places, especially if they were serving soul food. He loved to talk politics to anyone who would listen, and he was right about all his findings because whatever his position you better believe it was well researched and cited.
One of his favorite Claremont establishments was Last Drop Café. He would sit in front of the café for hours enjoying the friends and acquaintances who passed by, offering “Good morning, Oris,” and other pleasantries.
“Oris was, and will always be a Claremont legacy, filling everyone’s cup with laughs and wisdom, of which he had plenty,” his close friend Donna Lowe shared.
His words of wisdom usually were the result of pondering a topic during his long hours cycling across the U.S. and Europe. On one such ride he concluded that hand sanitizer is defective in how it is used. He would say, “Why would you want to rub the dirt into your hands when you could use a Wet One or water and a paper towel?”
“It was witty conclusions like this that made Oris so unique and interesting,” Mrs. Lowe added. “Claremont is a better place because of Oris, his love for the community, the friends he connected, and the many businesses he frequently supported.”
He is survived by his daughters, Allison V. Ager and Pamela Mock; grandsons, Coleman D. Ager and Conrad L. Ager; nephew, William W. Barber; and niece, Karen V. Barber.
He was preceded in death by his mother and father, Haley V. Brooks, and Oris G. Barber, brother, Charles T. Barber, and daughter, Elaine L. Fuller.
A celebration of life will be held at Walter’s Restaurant, 310 Yale Ave., Claremont, on Monday, May 24, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. His dear friend Rev. Ken Walden, PhD, of Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles will provide the eulogy. Mr. Barber’s friends are invited to this casual affair to share memories and stories of a life well lived.
He requested to be cremated and released at St. Andrews Bay, Florida, and in true Oris Barber fashion, precise GPS coordinates were provided. His request will be fulfilled by his family.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Trips For Kids, which provides cycling experiences for in need children so that they may experience the joy of biking and the freedom to explore the world, at https://www.tripsforkids.org/save-the-earth-ride-a-bike-campaign.