Photo: The Barber siblings, Ronald, Rosalyn and Donald, like their parents before them, are supportive of hard work and education.
The children of Harold Barber and Hildred Rich Barber have continued the legacy of Decatur County’s Barber Fertilizer—and just how fertilizer assists crops, the family is assisting area students with a newly established scholarship at Bainbridge State College. Now, thanks to the Barber family’s generosity, more students will have the opportunity to pursue higher education.
This year the Bainbridge State College Foundation awarded the Harold & Hildred Barber Scholarship for the first time to Ralph Thomas Hudgins, III, of Leary.
Hudgins graduated Miller County High School in 2014. He is currently in the Agribusiness transfer program with the University of Georgia at Bainbridge State College.
The scholar chose Bainbridge State College because it is close to home.
He said, “By attending Bainbridge State College, I can live at home to save money, work taking soil samples in the early season and work on Faith Farms while getting an education. I stay busy going to school fulltime, working and farming. I like my professors and I feel I am receiving an excellent foundation.”
Hudgins also feels honored to be the first recipient of this outstanding scholarship.
“I am truly honored to receive this scholarship. It will surely help out with my fall semester tuition. It is a generous scholarship that the Barber family has made possible for students like me,” he said.
The Barber Family has deep roots in the Bainbridge-Decatur County community. Harold Barber and Hildred Rich Barber grew up about seven miles apart on the Bethany/Spring Creek area. They were both born in the 1930’s and coming from third and fourth generation farmers, they both learned the “beauty and hard work” of living on a farm during the Great Depression.
The couple met at Bethany School/Church during their elementary school years and were childhood “sweethearts.” They married in 1955, and as the family tradition would have it, the newlyweds began farming in the Attapulgus area. Together, Harold and Hildred had a daughter. Rosalyn–and twin boys, Ronald and Donald Barber—all of which remain active in the community and family business.
Harold and Hildred Barber were married 58 years until Hildred’s passing in 2013. Harold passed away one year later.
According to their daughter, Rosalyn, her parents supported one another through good and bad times.
“My parents stood beside each other in business and life through hard times and good,” she said. “They were hardworking, supportive and loving parents who stressed God, family and a great work ethic. They are missed each and every day.”
The family’s legacy is exemplified every day through Barber Fertilizer, which the Barbers opened in 1976, at its present day site on Spring Creek Road.
Harold and Hildred Barber were farmers and had a deeply-rooted love for farming and everything it represented. When they began their family, they decided to move to Bainbridge from the farm in Attapulgus—and Harold began working at Georgia Gulf Sulfur. He soon worked his way up to manage the business. Even while working in the sulfur business, he never lost his love for farming.
Rosalyn said, “He always had a dream to be in business for himself. They started with a small office trailer and one spreader truck.”
Today Barber Fertilizer has grown into a complete farm supply business, including chemicals, feed, seed, fertilizer and peanut handling in additional three locations: Bainbridge, Campbellton (Fla.) and Madrid (Ala.).
Through hard work and determination, the Barber Family created a lasting legacy in the farming community—and today, they are assisting in the legacy of agribusiness education.
The criteria for the Harold & Hildred Barber Scholarship was established based on the family’s agricultural background—and serves as an opportunity to agribusiness-based students in the Decatur County area. Students must have a 2.5 GPA, major in business or agribusiness and a recent Bainbridge High School graduate is preferred.
“We believe in the hard working people of Decatur County,” said Rosalyn. “Bainbridge State College allows homegrown people the advantage of working and attending school. My brothers and I all took classes and benefited from BSC in its early years. We would like to help others who are in the same shoes we were in.”
The Barber Family encourages students to “believe in themselves.”
Rosayln added, “Keep your dream and goal in front of you—and like our parents, never give up. Remember the community you are in and give a helping hand to it and its people.”
For more information on the Barber Fertilizer Scholarship, please contact Lauren Harrell, the Executive Director of Institutional Advancement at 229.243.6077, or visit www.bainbridge.edu for more available scholarships.
Bainbridge State College, a state college of the University System of Georgia, provides an accessible, affordable, and excellent education for the diverse population of southwest Georgia and beyond through certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees, as well as through continuing education, adult education, and collaboration with other educational providers, resulting in life-long learning, economic development, and graduates empowered for success in a global society.