Wayne Lester Barr…July 25, 1912 – March 19, 2015



Wayne Lester Barr, long-time resident of Cheyenne Wells and rural Cheyenne County, entered the Kingdom of Heaven on March 19, 2015 at Cheyenne Manor Nursing Home where he resided the for last two years following a stroke.  He was 102 years and 8 months of age.

He was born in Oberlin, Kansas, July 25, 1912 to Bessie Kettles Barr and George Barr, and was the eldest of seven children consisting of three girls and four boys.  When he was three years old they moved from Oberlin and homesteaded on a half section of land North West of First View, Colorado.  Wayne and his mother, Bessie came to Stratton by train where they were picked up in a covered wagon by George, and taken 22 miles to a one room sod house with a dirt floor.  Siblings Lois, Iva, Lester, Dale and twins, Dorothy and Don were born there.  A cement house with two rooms was built several years later. The house was cold in the winter and frost would form on the walls.  Heat would come from the cooking stove.  Rocks would be warmed in the stove and put in the bed for warmth.  The kids would all sleep in one bed with some at the head and some at the foot.

Wayne’s strong work ethic began when he was 5 years old.  By the age of 8 he was milking cows and soon after working in the fields.  After these full days of chores, they would eat supper and go to bed.  On Sundays, they would finish the chores and play games such as Fox and Geese.

Wayne always enjoyed music.  He had a beautiful voice as well as a talent to play the guitar.  When he was 15 an Aunt gave him an old guitar and he learned to play several chords.   After he was married to Vivian, he purchased another guitar and went on to play for barn dances.

Wayne and his sisters and brothers went to a one-room school which was one and one half miles north of the farm.  They either walked or were taken by wagon. The school, grades 1-8, was later moved to another location and Wayne would ride a horse four miles to a mailbox, tie the horse there, and catch the bus.  This lasted until winter when the cold snowy weather prevented him from going to school.  He spent this time at home doing chores and working in the field.  When Wayne was 18 he went harvesting in Winona, Kansas and worked in the hay fields with Art James.

Wayne met Vivian at a barn dance and the love story began.  A Justice of the Peace married Wayne and Vivian February 4, 1933 at the Courthouse in Cheyenne Wells.  They didn’t have a car, but after the ceremony, the Applegate’s took them to Sharon Springs, Kansas where they enjoyed a fried chicken dinner.   Their life together started in the midst of the Great Depression.  Wayne performed many jobs during this time to support his family.  In 1935 they moved to Calcite, Colorado where Wayne worked cutting down trees and trimming the bark off to make seltzer, which was used to fill mattresses.  To accomplish this they would use an ax and square the tree off with a shovel.  They would cut the limbs off and trim it down.  They would usually work 7 days a week with pay being $3.50 per thousand feet so they had to trim a lot of trees to make any money.  In 1936 after moving back to Cheyenne Wells, Wayne was employed by the WPA, an agency set up by the Franklin Roosevelt Administration, to help in the recovery from the Depression.  This work included the building of bridges and terraces and the old swimming pool that was located at what is now Medicine Arrow Park.

He used his personal car to take children to the Smoky Angle School and the area high school aged children to Cheyenne Wells for school.  During a winter storm, he got stuck in the snow and walked, following a barbed wire fence to Murrell Sparks.  He and Mr. Sparks loaded a wagon with blankets and went back and picked up the kids.  With no phones, Vivian did not know what happed to him for two days.

He also worked on the railroad tamping ties and carrying rails.  At this time he was riding a horse four miles to work for Raleigh Smith and would work all day for 75 cents and his lunch.  It was then that Mr. H.C. Nelson from the Federal Land Bank came to the house and offered them a chance to buy one-half section of land for $8oo.  They took the offer and began to farm the land using a team of horses named Prince and Ben.  They raised cattle and sheep and the wool from the sheep was sold to buy a tractor.  They moved to town in 1950 so that it was easier for the girls to go to high school and moved into the present house in 1960.

Wayne served as special deputy and undersheriff during Bill Howards time as Sheriff  from 1953-1975.  They had many interesting tales to tell of their time together.

In 1950 Wayne was offered a job with Farmers Home Administration where he worked from 1954 -1974.  He was appointed the Cheyenne County Supervisor and eventually Kiowa and Kit Carson Counties.  He worked for the bank in Eads, Colorado looking at loans and securities for one year.  After retiring from FHA he was employed by the Colorado Rural Rehabilitation Corporation making loans to farmers.  He was appointed to the Board of Directors for CRRC in 1998 and was secretary/treasurer for the state from 2002 until he resigned in 2005.

Wayne also bred and raised quarter horses for several years.  Wayne’s grand-children and great grandchildren were his pride and joy.  He spent a great deal of time with them, taking them camping, fishing, and many other adventures.

Fishing and traveling were diversions from work and both were enjoyed especially in the summer.  Wayne and Vivian enjoyed going to Cripple Creek, CO, Laughlin, NV and McAllen, TX where they would have time to relax and enjoy themselves.

Wayne always had a smile for everyone and being a gentleman would tip his hat when meeting a lady on the street.

Wayne became a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason in 1948.  He was also a member of the Lions Club, and the United Methodist Church.  He helped get the elevator (or lift) for the Methodist Church.  He served on the school board along with various other boards and committees benefiting Cheyenne County.  He was instrumental in getting natural gas to Cheyenne Wells and worked tirelessly in getting horse racing in Cheyenne Wells.

Wayne is survived by his daughters Shirley (David) Pedersen of Cheyenne Wells, and Maxine (Elroy) Osborne of Colorado Springs; a sister Dorothy Steele of Colorado Springs and a brother Don Barr of Florence; Grandsons David Wayne (Cheri) Pedersen, Todd (Jalyn) Osborne, Troy (Lisa) Osborne, Scott (Sheila) Osborne, and Mark (Lori) Osborne; Granddaughters Bari (Mike) Dorman, Wendy (Devin) Dickey, Stacy (Jake) Noe, and 22 Great Grandchildren and 5 great-great-grandchildren.

Wayne is preceded in death by his parents Bessie and George Barr and step father Herb Ambrosier, wife of 79 years, Vivian, and siblings Lois, Iva, Lester and Dale.

Services were held at the Cheyenne Wells United Methodist Church at 2:00 p.m. with Reverend Dave Moorman officiating.   Friends and family can registeronline condolences and sign the guestbook at www.brownfuneraldirectors.com.   Arrangements were entrusted to the Brown Funeral Home with internment at Fairview Cemetery.

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