Paul Caldwell Barringer
October 5, 1924 – July 15, 2019
Paul C. Barringer October 5, 1924 - July 15, 2019 Dad, Husband, Engineer, Skier, Gardener, Sports Fan
Paul Caldwell Barringer passed away at home on Monday July 15, 2019. Born on October 5, 1924 in Concord, NC, he graduated from high school in Lynchburg, VA in 1942. Paul enrolled at Virginia Tech University (then called VPI) with plans to be an engineer, but world events intervened. Early one morning late in 1942, a busload of young, idealistic men left his home town for military physicals. On the return trip, Dad was one of only two remaining passengers. The others had already stepped forward to recite an oath. A childhood illness had caused a severe hearing loss and the resulting partial deafness earned him a 4-F classification by the Selective Service. He was part of “The Greatest Generation”. His character was forged by Depression and War, even though he never served on the battlefield.
Paul returned to VPI and continued his studies, but it was hard for him to justify being one of a small handful of young men still sitting in the classroom. As countless young people had done before and since, and with the help of his advisors at school, in 1943 he headed west to San Diego to contribute to the war effort as a design draftsman for Consolidated Vultee (AKA Convair), later a division of General Dynamics. Dad worked on the PBY “flying boat”, one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II. The “Catalina” served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the services of many other nations; a plane so versatile and durable that some served into recent years as fire-fighting planes. He had put his childhood hobby of building model airplanes to very productive use. By doing so, his life story was set in motion. But it could have been so very different. Many soldiers from central Virginia were among the first to storm Omaha Beach. Most of them did not survive. Were the other riders on Dad's induction bus in one of the boats on D-Day? We will never know. His disability was difficult for him, but it may have saved his life. He seldom complained about it. Perhaps that was a silent tribute to those he knew who had endured much worse.
After the war, in an effort to find a drier climate that he hoped would help him with his lifelong ear infections, Paul moved to Boulder, CO to attend the University of Colorado. There, he worked in the kitchens of various sororities and fraternities and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. It was while working in a sandwich shop on “the Hill” in Boulder, that Dad met Barbara Boggs, a smart, petite co-ed studying mathematics who had a weakness for ice cream. Mom graduated in 1949, and Dad in in 1951. Later that year, they married in Denver. The couple started a family in 1953. Together they have four children; John, of Lakewood, CO; James, of Golden, CO; Mary Ann Fiechtner (Michael), of Poway, CA and; Paula Parker (Sam), of Frisco, CO. They were also proud grandparents of five. The freezer at Grandma and Grandpas was never without ice cream.
During the 1950s, Paul worked as a Mechanical Engineer for several Denver area firms, including Coors & Stearns-Roger. By decade's end, he joined Harmon & Beckett as a partner, and stayed with the firm for over 20 years. Paul worked at Behrent Engineering until retiring in 1989. Today, many local schools, churches, offices, apartments, factories and shopping centers are heated & cooled by his HVAC systems. On family outings, he didn't notice ordinary things about a building, like the architecture, location or size. Instead, Dad would look at ceilings, roofs or into back rooms - to check out their physical plant. We thought he was obsessed with pipes & boilers.
Skiing was a big reason that Paul moved to Colorado. When he got the chance, Aspen was his destination. But it was expensive and far away on bad roads. So, before Arapahoe and Loveland Basins had chairlifts, Dad hiked up trails, foot packing them along the way, then skied back down - for free. No lifts or trails, just determination. People were tougher back then. He combined two of his favorite habits; exercise and thrift. His wife of 67 years, or one of his children, were at his side for many days on the slopes. Several early pioneers of the Colorado ski industry were among his friends. Skiing together with Dad gave us each time to listen to stories as we rode the chairlift, and for him to impart some life lesson about learning how to take care of ourselves. He also always had an orange or a Power Bar to share stashed in the pocket of his big down coat, so we could ski just a little longer before heading in for a break. He served as a volunteer with the National Ski Patrol, the Colorado Ski Runners Ski Club, and was a charter member of the Over the Hill Gang ski club at Copper Mountain. The sport was a lifelong passion. Dad made his last run in 2014, at the age of 89.
After retirement, Paul dove head first into gardening. His basement filled up with sprouting trays, tools and vintage seeds. Catalogs for all of these products jammed the mailbox. The water bill went up, but the grocery bill went down - at least in the summer. At each of his crop rows, a stake with the plant name was hand lettered, in the style of a trained draftsman. We have saved a few of these as mementos of our father the farmer/engineer. Every Christmas, our stockings held a jar of homemade raspberry jam - two jars in good harvest years, if we were lucky.
Paul was a lifelong sports fan, especially of football and baseball. It took him a while to warm up to the Broncos in their early days. After all, Lombardi and the Packers made the big news back then. But the Orange Crush teams of the '70s converted him to the Orange & Blue. By the time the Major Leagues arrived in Denver, Dad was retired and could pay much closer attention. He and Mom almost never missed watching the Rockies. If it was a summer evening, we always knew what was on their TV. And if the score went the wrong way, there was always a bowl of ice cream for solace.
Paul was raised in a devout Presbyterian household, and he attended services weekly. As an adult, he drifted away from regular church attendance. It's notable that in his elder years, Dad returned to the faith of his youth. He didn't talk very much about it, but was at peace with his decision. The last item on his list of directives is that his final service be held in a Presbyterian Church. We're glad that he expressed this instruction so clearly. We are honored to share his final moments in accordance with these wishes. Dad, we remember your funny Southern sayings and gestures. You showed us that there's much humor in life - if you look for it. You taught us that it's best to think before speaking, to believe that faith and perseverance will be rewarded in the long run. You were right. You worked hard and hung tough through adversity. You had a very long run at life. You earned and paid your own way. We admired your quiet strength. May we find the wisdom you came to know. We miss you. We love you always.
May God watch over Dad in death as he was blessed in life.
A Memorial service will be held at 10:00 am on Thursday August 8, 2019 at Shepherd of the Hills Presbyterian Church, 20th and Simms St. in Lakewood, CO.
In lieu of flowers, a gift may be made in Paul's honor to National Jewish Hospital in Denver, or to the charity of your choice.
- Celebration of Life with reception to follow Thursday, August 8, 2019
Paul Caldwell Barringer
August 5, 2019
Thoughts and prayers to the entire Barringer family. Your dad was a truly great man and you all have so much to be thankful for and so much to be proud of. As a longtime friend of Jim, I was blessed to have spent a few occasions with your dad and mom, including skiing together at Copper Mountain. Wonderful people. Wonderful family. I lost my dad (and hero) in 2018 so know how hard it is. Take solace in knowing he will always be there in spirit and in your hearts. God bless.
Loretta and Ira Langenthal
August 5, 2019
The Langenthal family met Paul and the Barringer family in the 1970’s up at Copper Mtn . From then until now we’ve remained close friends with mutual interests in each other’s families but especially skiing and the Copper Junction building where we both owned condominiums.
Paul’s knowledge, experience, integrity and relentless pursuit of the truth was incredible.
A model and mentor, Paul will be deeply missed
Loretta & Ira Langenthal
Paula B Parker
August 3, 2019
For those not on Facebook:
If you're my friend, chances are you've met my Dad. He was strong and smart, but he didn't say too many words. He had a quiet, comforting presence. His parting words were always caring and full of wisdom, "Thanks for the help; be careful; don't be in a hurry..." He paid close attention to important people and things and pretty much ignored the rest. He had a way of looking at me that let me know what he was thinking, and we had a sort of sign language for everyday chatter, since he didn't hear well. Still, the words were fewer than between most people, and yet... he may have told YOU a rather detailed story about some fascinating moment in history. He kept one million facts stored safely inside his brain and sometimes, they flowed out for new friends. His last words to me were ones we have heard him say before, "I'll see you later." I sure hope that's true, and that he and our Mom Barbara are together now, in their finest form.
Love you Dad, I'll see you later.
July 31, 2019
Uncle Paul visited us in Nags Head, NC, many years ago and taught our Sarah to bake bread in a bowl and to go by its smell to know when it was done. An amazing man.
July 25, 2019
My Uncle Paul, my mother’s only sibling, impressed upon my the importance of knowing where I am relative to the four cardinal directions. He also coached me in skiing back when I was a college freshmen at Lee’s McRae College where I took skiing lessons on Beech Mountain in North Carolina, a location Paul had visited numerous times when he was much younger. I remember then going to Loveland, CO where Paul took me skiing in 1971 & 1972. It was very different from the mostly ice in NC.
July 23, 2019
I will never forget that twinkle in your dad's eye telling me the story about moving to Denver and consequently meeting your mom while he was working at the soda fountain. He told me, "She had great gams and I just knew she'd be a good skier!" Moreover, I'll remember the great respect he had for your mom for the many gifts she had and the joy he brought to your family gatherings.
All my love,
No coming, no going
No after, no before
I hold you so close;
I release you to be free
For I am in you
And, you are in me
--Thich Nhat Hahn
July 22, 2019
Paul was a such a good and kind man. Smart with a dry wit and boy could he tell a story!
Including the year and of course the season and many details that you might not have needed to know about!
Paul was always so welcoming to me and never said a harsh word about others.
His patience and good nature was a great influence throughout my life.
I hope to grow up and be just like him :)
I Love You Paul
Say Hi to Barbara and give her a hug for me.
July 22, 2019
Uncle Paul drove me up to Copper Mountain and with his
advice I learned how to ski.