From time to time, a shining star and leader blesses a community with her presence.
I wish to recognize and express appreciation to one such person whose life has had a significant and lasting impact upon the folks who call Tucker County their home. She passed away in recent days. Jane Barb was a prominent member of the West Virginia judicial community for many years. She was an early member of the West Virginia Magistrates’ Association. I had the privilege of practicing law in her magistrate court through all but 4 years of her 31 year tenure.
Jane studied nursing in college. Although she did not have a law degree, she had the intellect, common sense, and wisdom to serve as an outstanding elected magistrate for 24 years. She was gifted with the ideal temperament to serve in a judicial capacity. She was stern, but compassionate. Litigants in her courtroom felt comfortable and able to present their cases – with or without counsel. Perhaps, one of her greatest attributes was the ability to lessen the tensions and stresses which exist between the parties. I recall a number of occasions when she used her keen sense of humor and obvious empathy for the parties’ respective positions to diminish the hostilities which so often arise between the litigants. When she stepped aside as an elected official in 2001, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals would not let her retire. It then utilized Jane as a senior status magistrate for another 7 years, not only in Tucker County, but also in numerous other counties when the assigned magistrate was unable to serve.
Jane contributed to this community in a number of other capacities as well. Prior to being elected to public office, Jane served as President of Barb’s Drug Store, and as co-owner of the Old Town Shoppe in Parsons. Although her son, daughter-in-law, and grandson managed Barb’s Funeral Home (now Lohr – Barb), the community generally associated her with that business, as well. Jane also was frequently asked to serve as master of ceremonies at public gatherings. Her wit and charm always made the experience enjoyable.
I did not know Jane’s husband, as he passed away 3 months before I opened my law office. But I did know her as a parent and grandparent. She provided her progeny with guidance and high ideals. Although Riley, Jeff, and Sidnee are left to grieve along with Jane’s grandchildren, they must have great pride in all that she accomplished in her lifetime. Tucker County residents have a fond memory of this outstanding community leader. I feel privileged to have known her and witnessed many of her accomplishments.
John W. Cooper