News & Resources


Embodiment of Place: Bob Barr Retiring

Jul 02, 2013

After 36 years of service and 47 years since he first set foot on the Au Sable campus, Bob Barr has announced that he will be retiring from his position as Director of Support Services at the Institute at the end of this year.  

Bob’s life and work track the growth and development of the Institute. He first attended Au Sable as a Biology student at Taylor University while taking summer courses under Au Sable founder, Harold Snyder. Harold and Bob would go on to develop a deep bond that brought Bob back to Au Sable following his service in the US Marine Corps and a stint as Resident Hall Director at Taylor University, where he met his wife, Rebecca. 

Bob returned to Au Sable to serve as its first Director of Support Services in 1977. Besides maintaining and developing the facilities on Au Sable's campus, he led wilderness expeditions with youth at the camp. When Au Sable became an Institute and expanded into offering college courses to a wider number of Christian colleges and universities in 1979, Bob taught outdoor survival and orienteering courses for the undergraduate semester program.

Bob is unique in the best way. He is resident jack-of-all trades (plumber, builder, electrician, roofer, snow removal specialist to name a few), but he is also resident hospitality, medical support, mentor, philosopher, and storyteller. All of this done with a servant’s heart and determined Christian commitment. 

Bob has been a fixture at the Institute, and it is impossible to calculate the impact he has had on everyone who has ventured onto the Au Sable campus. He has been a living example of the “place-based” life Au Sable teaches its students. Fortunately, his permanent home remains close by, across Louie’s Pond, a short path from the home of the man who invited him on this long journey, Harold Snyder. And if he continues to follow in his mentor's footsteps, we expect to see Bob popping up around the Institute very often.

Au Sable will be commemorating Bob's life and work at the Institute over the next six months. Be on the lookout for more in the coming days on ways Au Sable will celebrate Bob.