By Woody Woodrick
MERIDIAN – Praising his skills as a cook, nature-lover, jokester and shepherd, friends and family said goodbye to the Rev. Ronald Jerry Barham on July 25 at Poplar Springs United Methodist Church.
Rev. Barham, 65, a United Methodist pastor, died July 20 at Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center of complications after a medical procedure.
Hundreds of people packed the sanctuary, many of those attending were clergy while lay people came from as far as Long Beach, Tupelo and beyond to bid farewell to the pastor.
“Barham was a shepherd,” said the Rev. Rob Gill, pastor at Poplar Springs and a close friend. “He took people down the path of righteousness from one great experience to another.”
The Revs. Bert Felder, Bill Lowry and Rayford Woodrick shared stories of their times backpacking in the Blue Ridge Mountains with Rev. Barham. His daughter Rachel Barham also spoke, along with his son Winston Barham and brother Robert Barham.
“He expected people to be smart enough to get what Jesus was saying in the gospel – even if they had to be hit on the head with it,” Rachel Barham said.
Rachel Barham called her father an “old school romantic who wanted to change the world.” “He had complete intolerance for injustice in the world,” she said.
Robert Barham told how when he was a teen his brother helped him through a difficult time. “As a teen, I doubted my salvation although I was saved,” Robert Barham said. “Ron gave me the gift of convincing me I was saved. All the hands that were laid on pastors through the years were laid on Ron, and Ron laid his hands on my son who is now an Episcopal priest.”
Rev. Barham (right) was known for his love of nature and the outdoors. He enjoyed cooking, including sometimes unusual dishes and game. Most of the stories told about his life were humorous, reflecting his love of a good joke, although it was noted that he admitted he could not tell a joke well. He made up for it, his friends said, by pulling or instigating practical jokes involving dead armadillos and rocks in backpacks. “The first word in funeral if fun,” Robert Barham said.
Rev. Barham was a 1965 graduate of Millsaps College and earned his masters of divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Herman and Bertha Barham of Meridian.
Other survivors include: wife of 41 years, Carrol F. Barham of Collinsville; brother, Otha Barham and of Meridian; and sister, Marge Sims of Annandale, Va.
Memorials may be made to UMCOR Disaster Response, c/o David Stotts, P.O. Box 1201, Jackson, MS 39215-1201, The Nature Conservancy (800-628-e6860), or the National Arbor Day Foundation (arborday.org).
The family also invites you to share stories by emailing RevRonBarham@yahoo.com