My Father-in-love, William Barbour was an incredible man and I have updated this post in his honor.
William Rinehart Barbour, Jr. turned 95 in March of 2017! The sparkle in his eye was as welcoming as ever. His love for his family and friends radiated from a face that lit up when you entered his room, glowing more than 95 birthday candles ever could. He had enviable silver white hair and a ready wit. He was a man to be admired; always was, and always will be.
WRB, as he’s often called, was a man of many talents and for most of us, it’s hard to even imagine walking in his shoes. Some of you may recognize his name as the man who picked up the gauntlet set down by his father and his uncle to find a way to make Christian books available to everyone. His uncle, Fleming H. Revell, Sr., and His father, William R. Barbour, Sr. set the groundwork for WRB to continue to develop a publishing legacy. He was an innovator and when he became president of Revell Publishing in 1968, he wanted to make sure that great preachers, Christian entertainers, businessmen and laymen, and notable women all had an opportunity to get their work into the marketplace. He pioneered the things we take for granted today…getting Christian books into secular stores, creating books about family values, and ways to live life more honorably. He published women like Marabel Morgan, whose “Total Woman” was one of the top selling books of the 70’s. He published Corrie Ten Boom’s, “The Hiding Place”, and Dale Rogers’, “Angels Unaware.” He was a publisher who was always connected to his readers and humbled by their messages. He began every editorial meeting with a letter from someone who wrote to share how their life had changed because they read one of the books he published. “This is why we do what we do,” he beamed. He was intent on publishing books that mattered.
That’s not the whole story though. Yes, he was a brilliant publisher, but even more he was a man with a capacity to love and forgive and bless the lives of others in every way he could. He was a man who loved his brother Hugh and his sister-in-law, Eva. He loved everybody in ways that were reminiscent of the kind of brotherly love Jesus talked about. He was a man who blessed his children, Bruce, Betsy, and Alan with gifts and talents beyond measure and hearts like his that are as big as all outdoors. He was a man who honored his wife of 65 years, Mary, and understood the gift that she was to him for many years. He loved his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. William Rinehart Barbour, Jr. was a man with big shoes and most of us will spend years trying to find ways to walk in the path he created. As his family and his friends, when he turned 95, we shouted with love and joy, “Happy Birthday, WRB!” “Happy Birthday, incredible, remarkable and wonderful man!
Sometimes we wonder if we make a difference. Sometimes we look in the mirror and try to imagine what it would be like if the work we did in the world, and the love we shared with others, could be so amazing that it would last forever, long after our days on earth are through. All I know is that it’s a great blessing to me to be part of this family and I’m humbled as a daughter-in-law, as an author of Christian books, and as a friend of this man to realize all he’s done to make my path a bit easier, long before he knew I’d ever be in his life. I want to be like that. I want to walk in Bill’s shoes!
NOTE: William R. Barbour went home to be with Jesus on September 12, 2017. He was peaceful and loving all the way to heaven.