McDONOUGH — After fighting COVID-19 for much of February, District 3 Board of Commissioners member Gary Barham died this week. He was 66.
Tuesday morning, Barham’s son, Josh Barham, announced his passing on social media.
“It is with heavy heart that I inform you that Gary Barham has crossed over and is walking the streets of gold with Jesus this morning.”
Daily updates from Josh Barham kept friends, family and community members abreast of his father’s condition. Some days the reports were more positive while others informed the community of new battles. No matter the tone, all ended with words of prayer.
Josh Barham said his father was peaceful and surrounded by family when he transitioned.
“In the moment he left, I could imagine him opening his eyes, taking a deep breath and feeling the sun on his face. In that moment he was accepted into Heaven, and he was made whole. We know that Jesus gave him the biggest welcoming hug, and I know he told him all about us.”
Barham’s visitation will be held on Saturday, March 6 from 10 a.m. to noon and 2-4 p.m. at the North Ola Ballpark, fields 13 and 14, 354 N. Ola Road in McDonough. Due to COVID-19 masks and social distancing will be required.
The funeral service will be held at the Ola High School football field Sunday, March 7 at 2 p.m. with Pastor Chris Anderson officiating. The service will be live streamed at www.cannonclevelandfunerals.com.
Henry County government officials called Barham’s passing an “immense loss for all of us.”
“Henry County lost a great man this week. We are heartbroken by the passing of Commissioner Gary Barham and extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends,” county officials said. “Gary was a servant leader who cared deeply for Henry County and worked across the aisle and all lines for the betterment of Henry County and its citizens. Gary was a true gentleman and the voice of reason for so many. We are all better for having known him, and he will be deeply missed.”
BOC Chair Carlotta Harrell asked for prayers for Barham’s family and those who worked alongside him “as we mourn the loss of our dear friend, colleague, neighbor, coach and mentor.”
“I have known Gary for nearly a decade. He has been a great friend and loyal community leader with a public servant’s heart,” Harrell said. “Along with many others, Gary’s compassion touched my life, and his dedication will have a lasting impact on Henry County.”
Fellow BOC member Dee Clemmons was speechless and heavy hearted while asking for prayers for the Barham family.
“Gary Barham fought to the end, through his battle with COVID, with unwavering love and service to this community he called his hometown. His desire for unity will remain as my guide. That’s how I will remember my colleague and friend,” Clemmons said.
Commissioner Johnny Wilson had called Gary Barham a friend for more than 25 years.
“Losing Gary is losing family,” Wilson said. “As far as Gary as a commissioner, he mentored me, and I looked to him for advice on so many things. But most importantly, he was a true friend, and he was loved by so many people. Words can’t convey how hard this has been. He will be dearly missed.”
“It truly saddens me on the passing of Commissioner Barham. I really enjoyed serving with him over the years, as he was a friend and a trusted colleague,” said Commissioner Bruce Holmes. “I offer my sincerest condolences to his family and hope they know that I am here if they should need anything.”
“It has been more than a pleasure working with Commissioner Gary Barham,” said Commissioner Vivian Thomas. “He has always been a gentleman and willing to work across party lines for the betterment of the county. I will miss him as a peer and I am praying for his family. He will truly be missed.”
Henry County Parks and Recreation, too, posted a tribute on social media to Barham’s service and impact. Barham was inducted into the 2010 HCPRD Hall of Fame as a longtime volunteer for the McDonough Youth Association.
“Commissioner Gary Barham will be missed tremendously, not only as a colleague, but as a friend,” department HCPRD officials said Thursday.
Barham joined the Board of Commissioners in January 2013. Before taking a seat on the board, he served the city of McDonough for 31 years, including as director of public health.
He also served as a volunteer McDonough firefighter and was on the committee for the Olympic Torch Relay and the Paralympics Torch Relay. He served as president of the Kiwanis Club and was a member of First Families of Henry County, the Henry County Moose Lodge and delivered for Meals-On-Wheels.
Barham was heavily involved in sports, playing baseball himself and coaching Little League, youth baseball, basketball and football. He umpired the first Roberto Clemente World Series held in McDonough and was later inducted into the Henry County Recreation Hall of Fame.
Barham and his wife, Becky, were married for 40 years. They have two sons and several grandchildren.
Those who wish to sign the online guest registry can do so at www.cannonclevelandfunerals.com.