Sharing Memories With Robert Barrows

By Melissa Brown

photo provided

Every morning when Robert Barrows wakes up, he does 20 push-ups, 20 squats, crunches, and a variety of other muscular work outs. He goes throughout his day tidying his house, doing any yard work that needs to be done, and tending to errands. Then, at the end of every day, he will either spend 20 minutes on his Nordic Track or lift weights. At 86 years old, Bob Barrows makes sure that every day is an active day. “The best thing  you can do is keep yourself in shape, especially if you live alone,” says Bob.

    Bob was born on December 7, 1925 and was raised in Vergennes, just down the street from where he lives now. He attended both elementary school and high school in Vergennes, where he adored many of his teachers and was a dedicated student. After graduating from high school in June of 1944, Bob joined the Air Force. “I wasn’t sent overseas because the war was almost over by then.” He was trained as an aerial gunman in a B-24 plane, and after spending a year in the service he returned to Vergennes. During this time, he spent a year working as both a taxi driver and a coal hauler in the area. From 1945 to 1962, Bob also played the saxophone for a dance band that travelled around Vermont.

    During 1946, Bob married Virginia Lacard. “We grew up 5 or 6 houses away from each other,” Bob states. “I lost touch went I went into the service, but when I came back we met back up.” Together they had four children, two boys and two girls, who were all raised in Vergennes. “We had six people living in the house, and I would spend $15 a week on groceries, not including milk. Bread was $.10 a loaf.”

    In 1947, Bob used his G.I. Bill to attend the University of Vermont at the urging of his local barber. “I went up there, took the entrance exam, and got in!” says Bob. He took classes in mechanical engineering and graduated in 1951. He then went on to get a job at Simmons in Vergennes, which is now known as Goodrich. During his time there, he worked in the drafting department, as a design engineer and as a manufacture engineer. He was then switched to tool design until that department was done away with. After that he did the estimating for jobs in manufacturing. Over the years, he saw the factory go through the ownership of three different companies: Simmons, Hercules, and BF Goodrich. After 42 years in the work force, Bob retired in January of 1993.

    On top of doing most all of the manual labor around his home and land on the outskirts of Vergennes, he is also a member of the Vergennes Lions Club. “I am one of two original charter members. We started up in 1954.” He remains and active member and attends the regular meetings and participates in all the activities that the Lions Club hosts.

    When it comes to the aging process, Bob comically comments that “there’s not a whole lot we can do about it!” However, he thinks that the most important thing for people to remember when they are getting older is to “watch their diet and get plenty of exercise.” Looking back on his life and all that he has done and been through, Robert Barrows remarks quite matter-of-factly: “I have been pretty fortunate.” And he certainly has been. For those who need a role model for getting older, Bob Barrows is your man.

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