by Lisa Tome
Members of the Sons of American Legion Post 135, Perryville, raised a flag over the post at dawn on Friday morning, November 8. At dusk, during a small ceremony, the flag was taken down. Later this week, that flag will cover the casket of David R. Barr, Jr.
Barr, 64, of Port Deposit, died Thursday, November 7 at 11:11 a.m. His death is the third line of duty death in the history of the fire service in Cecil County, and the first for the Community Fire Company of Perryville.
Barr was injured while on duty directing traffic on Friday, October 25. He was struck by a vehicle following an accident on Route 40. He had been a fire police officer for 13 years in Perryville. He is also a member of Water Witch Fire Company for 47 years and is a retired firefighter from the Perry Point Veterans Administration Medical Center with 27 years of service.
He was hospitalized since the accident. A steady stream of visitors flooded Christiana Care Center. When Barr was transferred to the hospital's hospice unit last Wednesday, uniformed firefighters stood watch at his door. When the body was transported back to the county last week, it was escorted by fire apparatus all along the route from the hospital to Patterson Funeral Home.
On Thursday afternoon, fire service veterans Buddy Schweers and Richard Hall helped a younger member line up pins and medals on his Class A uniform. The fire company and apparatus were draped in black ribbons.
"I worked with him at Perry Point. He was a lieutenant there and very dependable. He was old school. He taught me my first CPR class," said Hall.
John Jones is president of the Community Fire Company of Perryville. His eyes filled with tears as he talked about Barr. "He was a great firefighter. He loved to cook meatballs and pizza. He loved the camaraderie of being around all the guys. He was always ready to lend a hand to anyone who needed help," said Jones. "He was a good guy. We need more like him."
"I really don't think it's hit the company yet. We're still numb. He'd do anything, anything for the fire company or the legion," said Jones.
For 21 years, Barr was a very active member of the Post 135 Sons of the American Legion. He is an honorary life member of the squadron and has served as the squadron commander on and off for many years.
"He's the hero of volunteers. If ever Davey was needed, he was there. He would take people to doctor appointments. If there was anything he could do, he was there," said Emory Thompson, who is now the acting squad commander. "He is just an irreplaceable person. You just don't run into them everyday. He loved to laugh. You seldom heard a complaint from him. And if you did, it was followed by a laugh."
On Saturday morning, a group of people gathered along Route 40 in the area where Barr was struck and erected a memorial in his honor. Three Perryville police officers, a Maryland Transportation Authority police officer, members of the Perryville Fire Company, as well as members of Barr's family were there.
Carl Ewing is a life member of Perryville Fire Company. He attended the placement of the roadside memorial. Barr replaced Ewing as captain of the fire police. "He was one heck of a good fella. I will miss him," said Ewing. He also said he will work to get more protection for fire police in Barr's honor.
Barr and his wife, Donna, have been married for 41 years.
The couple worked together in many ways helping the community. In the 1990s, they were an integral part of a group of Perryville High School Booster Club members that group worked to obtain lights for the football stadium. He also attended athletic events for his children and grandchildren.
"His family meant the world to him, his family and the community. He was a loving and devoted husband, father, and grandfather," said Donna Barr.
The couple has two sons; David R. Barr III and fiancee, Nikki Schultz, and John Barr and his wife, Rachel. Barr also leaves behind seven grandchildren. Barr's parents, David R. Barr, Sr. and Emma DeMarco Barr, are deceased.
Visitation for David Barr, Jr. will be held on Friday, November 15 from 1-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at the Community Fire Company of Perryville, Principio Furnace Road. Funeral Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, also at the fire company. Burial will be in the West Nottingham Cemetery, Colora with full fire company honors.