Yesterday my grandfather Howard Barben passed away at the age of 96. Ultimately it was a good thing but it is still a little hard to deal with. He is absolutely one of the greatest heroes in my life. Some of my earliest memories involve him. Although he was extremely religious and an extremely focused individual he had a great sense of humor and was always looking to have fun. (because of this he really loved my dad) He had 7 daughters, 50 some odd grandchildren and I don’t have any idea how many great grand children.
I am now crying as I write this.
He served his LDS mission in the Eastern States mission where he ended up being the preacher for several months to a Baptist congregation that couldn’t afford a preacher. Little did they know he was not only preaching to them from the Bible but from the Book of Mormon as well. When I was pretty young he was called to be the mission president in
He won local political office and after seeing how much money the government wasted became an advocate for making sure that as much money as possible go to the church - as he felt that it did a lot more good. I’ve been told and I am not sure as to the accuracy – but he never made more than 10 K in salary a year but ended up giving more than 10 million to the church and church education. (lesson- by land) He even allowed me to use a small portion to start the animation program the first year I taught at BYU- when the departments were hesitant to invest in a program that was not approved.
There are a lot of crazy stories about my grandfather’s inventions and things he did in his spare time but I’ll save those for another day. Since my family was the blue collar family in this extended family we did a lot of work for and with grandpa and whether we were mowing his lawn, shoveling the snow off his driveway or pouring cement on a home improvement project it was always a joy to be with him.
At 90 or 91 his doctor told him that it was probably time to stop his tennis playing which he did a couple of times a week. He had been going down hill for a while but still had moments of brilliance. I went to visit him at my parent’s house on Tuesday. I thought he was sleeping and when walked into the room he called me by name and said hello. I will always remember that our last exchange was that I told him I loved him and he told me he loved me too.
It’s weird to think that he is gone. When many are raised in the church to think, “What would Jesus do?” I always grew up thinking, “What would Grandpa Barben do?” When many students were going to BYU on scholarship funds paid for by my grandfather my mother and I, as well as many of my relatives worked to pay our way through school. Although I haven’t always felt this way, I do now appreciate how he helped to give me a strong work ethic while also understanding that we are owed nothing and yet owe everything to God. He was quite often at my sporting events when I was younger, gave me my patriarchal blessing and preformed my wedding as well. He specifically told me how proud of me he was for the work I have done at BYU and the impact we are making. What a man!
Love you Grandpa.