Reginald Earl Barr, 91, passed away peacefully on January 16, 2023, to join his precious wife of 65 years, Sandra and grandson, Andre LeBlanc. He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Debbie and Gary LeBlanc, his sister and brother-in-law, Dana and Bill Baker, and great-niece, Sarah Quinones.
Reginald was born in Brazil, Indiana, on December 12, 1931, to Gladys and Reginald Barr. His mother was a kindergarten teacher and his father a minister which explains Reginald’s lifelong commitment to education and service. The Barr family lived in various towns throughout Ohio, the most memorable being Xenia, Ohio, where Reg’s father was the minister at the Ohio Veteran’s Children’s Home (orphanage). As a minister’s son, his childhood revolved around his father’s pastoral responsibilities, but he also thrived as an athlete and student. At 14, due to a nearly fatal case of pneumonia, an Ohio physician urged his family to immediately send Reg out West to live with his aunt and uncle in Phoenix, Arizona; the rest of the family could join him at the end of the school year. So, Reg came out West. As a freshman in high school living without his immediate family close by, Reg enjoyed a level of independence and self-reliance that shaped the rest of his life. He had his own transportation: a bicycle. He had his own income: a newspaper route. And he had to be accountable to his aunt and uncle as well as friends, like John Tussey, and their families who looked out for his well-being. If there were obvious character traits of Reg Barr, it was his creative problem-solving and fierce independence. These character traits took root and blossomed when he moved to Phoenix, Arizona.
After graduating from Phoenix Union High School, Reginald served in the military and attended Phoenix College where he met and then married the love of his life, Sandra Barney. Reg and Sandra moved to Tucson, just far enough from the Phoenix clan to feel independent, yet close enough to visit often. He and Sandra continued their schooling at the University of Arizona. Becoming an educator was not Reg’s original intention when he majored in history and political science; he was preparing for law school. However, times were tough for a young family and working full time at the post office while going to school was getting old, so Reginald decided to do as Sandra did–get a teaching certificate!
In the early 60’s to the early 70’s, Reginald not only taught history in Tucson at Catalina and Palo Verde High Schools, but also distinguished himself with a Master’s and a Doctorate in Education. His depth of knowledge and distinctive leadership style uniquely qualified him to administer, direct or consult for a wide variety of district and federal programs. In 1976, he returned to the classroom to enjoy the most rewarding teaching position of his career: Social Studies Department Chair for the newly created University High School, a “school within a school” catering to the needs and talents of gifted students. His philosophy of education (and life) crystalized more than ever after teaching at UHS: empower individuals through personalization and opportunities to succeed.
In the 1980’s Reg Barr’s entrepreneurial spirit took flight. His first successful business was Hawaii EdVenture, a summer school opportunity for educators and high school students set in Hawaii. Family members and close friends served as drivers, caregivers, organizers, tour guides, instructors or whatever job was needed in exchange for three weeks in paradise. It was an easy trade-off. In 1992, after serving as President of the Arizona State Board of Education and retiring from TUSD, Reginald could not sit still; retirement, as it is usually envisioned, was not for him. When the charter school movement began, Reg was called yet again to combine what he knew about education and the business world. He and his wife, Sandy, created a system of charter schools, known as AmeriSchools, to enact his philosophy of empowering students and employees to be successful. The team that he assembled worked tirelessly to create a family atmosphere, resulting in many loyal employees and successful students. He was very proud of the many achievements of AmeriSchools.
Reginald Barr loved to solve problems creatively; he cherished his freedom, independence, and self-reliance, but above all, he loved being the magic carpet under someone else’s feet by supporting their professional and personal growth in any way he could. So, for those who he supported, he would say, “Continue to follow your compass and strive to make the world a better place.” After a long life well-lived, we are confident that Reg is now home with his beloved wife, Sandy, and grandson, Andre.
The LeBlanc family would like to thank “Dr. B’s” wonderful caregivers and the gracious staff at Hospice of the Valley. Per his request, services will be simple and private, “like Mom’s”. Condolences and “Reg Barr” stories can be expressed at www.whitneymurphyfuneralhome.com.