COMMENTARY

Retirement of Dave Barber signals end of era for BDN Sports

BDN sportswriters Dave Barber and Pete Warner pause to say hello to Peggy Kimball during a break in basketball tourney action at the Bangor Auditorium in February 2013. After nearly 40 years at the BDN, Dave Barber is retiring.
Kevin Bennett
BDN sportswriters Dave Barber and Pete Warner pause to say hello to Peggy Kimball during a break in basketball tourney action at the Bangor Auditorium in February 2013. After nearly 40 years at the BDN, Dave Barber is retiring. Buy Photo
Posted June 14, 2013, at 5:46 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor Daily News Sports staff is a dedicated, hardworking, team of journalists.

On Monday, one of our most integral members will shut down his computer at 491 Main Street for the last time.

The retirement of sportswriter and assistant sports editor Dave Barber marks the end of an era at the BDN.

Dave arrived at the BDN in December 1972. He joined the staff, led by late sports editor Owen Osborne, as a part-time clerk.

In those days, the newsroom resonated with the hammering keys of manual typewriters and the sucking sound of vacuum tubes. Cigarette smoke often hung in the air.

Nearly 40 years later, air circulating through the heating/cooling system is sometimes audible above the tapping of keyboards and squawking of the police scanner.

Times sure have have changed.

Over the years, Dave worked with late sports editors Bud Leavitt and Bill Warner, Bob Haskell and, most recently, Joe McLaughlin. Dave became a full-time employee in 1978.

For most of his career, he worked primarily behind the scenes, handling editing and layout duties — for which there are no bylines or column head shots to be recognized. His forte as a journalist was his attention to detail.

On countless occasions, his knack for finding spelling mistakes, typographical errors and other potential blunders helped maintain a high standard of excellence.

Dave also had a special way of maintaining calm in the most pressure-packed deadline situations. He kept his head while, occasionally, some of us were losing ours.

He has always been quick to lighten the mood with a friendly, well-timed observation or a clever one-liner that exhibited his quick wit.

Dave is what coaches might refer to as a “glue” guy, one of those “players” whose efforts are often unsung, but consistently bolster the performance of the team.

Dave was versatile enough to contribute significantly in a writing capacity. He covered Maine golf for many years, spanning the state to chronicle the happenings at the Paul Bunyan Amateur, the Greater Bangor Open, the Maine Amateur and the Maine Open.

He developed a rapport with Maine golfers and, because of his affinity for the game, was able to accentuate the important dynamics when chronicling the winners’ keys to victory.

Recently, Dave put most of his editing duties on hold and was thrust back into action as a writer. He has capably headed up our coverage of girls high school sports and also has been an advocate for youth sports programs.

Now, Dave will put down the note pad and pick up a golf club. You might also see him checking out antique automobiles in Owls Head or run into him at the Maine Highland Games.

It is hard to imagine not having Dave as part of our team. He served as a mentor for younger writers and clerks who joined the staff, myself included, sharing his expertise while providing sage advice.

Dave, Bangor High classmate and BDN fixture Larry Mahoney (whose career began in 1972), Joe and I have worked together since 1984 — more than 29 years. For the last 16-plus years, Ernie Clark also has been a pivotal member of the team.

We’ve watched with keen interest as each other’s children have grown up, graduated from high school and college, and joined the workforce. We’ve commiserated as waistlines have expanded and hairlines have receded and/or grayed.

It has been an honor and a privilege to have worked alongside Dave Barber. Beyond his professional accomplishments, he is a caring man, a devoted husband to wife Abbie and a loving father to daughter Holly. He understands what is important in life.

Thanks for everything, Dave. It has been a pleasure to share the journalistic ride all these years. Congratulations on your retirement!

I hope to see you on the golf course.

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