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Emergency personnel pay tribute to colleague, teacher, friend

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

When Brunswick County emergency medical technician and teacher Jeff Barber died last week, his colleagues were heartbroken, but they decided to make his funeral a memorable one by honoring all he did for the county during his short life.

Bald Head Island Chief of Emergency Services Chip Munna and his fellow emergency workers brought one piece of apparatus from each emergency services agency within Brunswick County to the funeral home during the service.

The Ocean Isle Beach and Tri-Beach fire departments brought their ladder trucks, and Barber’s colleagues wore their dress uniforms. Shallotte Fire Chief Paul Dunwell organized a firefighter honor guard.

Dunwell said he was asked to be the unit leader and was happy to do it.

“We felt it was our duty, and it was cert an honor to do that. Jeff was the type of person who was always there for everybody, and he was certainly there for us,” he said.

According to Munna, every fire, EMS and rescue agency in Brunswick County was

represented at the funeral, by way of both uniformed personnel and emergency vehicles

It was a fitting tribute, Munna said, for a man who came “full circle” in the emergency services system.

He recalled that Barber started his career by volunteering at the Sunset Beach Fire Department and the Shallotte Rescue Squad, then began training as a paramedic and started working for Munna at Bald Head Island before moving on to Brunswick County and also becoming an EMT instructor at Brunswick Community College.

“Jeff and I volunteered together with Shallotte Rescue Squad. I taught his paramedic class, served as his fire chief when he worked as a firefighter/paramedic with Bald Head Island, and then was his student when he taught some of my rescue technician courses.”

“He taught hundreds and hundreds of people in this and surrounding counties,” Munna recalled.

The chief recalled Barber’s kind, generous nature.

“He was a good guy—tall and big but a big teddy bear, too. He was really big on helping others, and he inspired people to take EMT classes and go on to the advanced levels.

“He touched a lot of lives not only as a caregiver but in training others.”

The ex-Marine also enjoyed spending time with his family—his wife Victoria and son Nicholas, and being outdoors, particularly playing paintball.

“I thought a lot of Jeff,” said his friend John Winders, who oversees EMT classes at BCC and spoke at Barber’s funeral.

“He was always there any time you needed help, but you also had to understand him. He had a sense of humor that could be sarcastic, and he liked to play practical jokes.

“I depended on Jeff a lot,” he continued, recalling the time he went to the hospital and could not teach a class. Barber stepped in to teach it, telling him not to worry.

“He said ‘I got it, Bud.’ He was that kind of person.”

Barber died at age 38 last Thursday at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center after being hospitalized with heart problems. His colleagues helped set up a fund for his son, Nicholas, a first-grader, to which mourners may donate flowers.

Send donations to the State Employees Credit Union, Victoria Barber, FBO Nicholas Barber PO Box 306 Shallotte, NC 28459.