Monday, October 25, 2010


I'm slightly obscessed with obituaries. I know. I'm weird.
But this is what happened...As I was getting in the shower one afternoon last week, I was listening to the news and a name caught my attention. The news person announced that long-time Sevier County Sheriff, Phil Barney had passed away. This name caught my attention because I had heard my dad speak this name numerous times as he recounted stories of growing up in Sevier County. Phil Barney was one of my dad's best friends growing up in Annabella, Utah. And I'm not certain of their relationship, I just always assumed that they were cousins since my dad's mother was a Barney.
I suppose that the closest I ever came to meeting this man was when he came to my dad's funeral a few years ago, although I don't specifically recall the exact event. He probably did come into the Arctic Circle on occasion over the years to visit my dad as well, but I don't know for certain.
The name Phil Barney has also been in my mind recently because of a conversation that I had with my Aunt Shirley while visiting Capitol Reef this past summer. I had meant to record this little story, but now is as good a time as any. While driving to Capitol Reef I pointed out Monroe Mountain and mentioned that that is where my Grandpa Robison died in July of 1965. When we got to Torrey and settled in to camp, we went and visited with Shirley for a bit. She had just had surgery and was taking it easy. I asked her about my Grandpa and the story of when he died.
Here is the story that she recounted to me...
Grandpa Norman Robison, Dell Robison (my uncle), Gerald Robinson (my uncle), and Phil Barney were up on Monroe Mountain. Their truck had gotten stuck--really stuck. They could not get it out. So, Phil and Gerald started walking down the mountain to get help. Dell and my Grandpa stayed at the truck to wait. And apparently my Grandpa had a heart attack. When Phil and Gerald got back with help, it was too late and my Grandpa had died. Shirley told how the day unfolded. They got everyone back to town. There was a bed in the living room that my Grandma Fay was staying in. She had her own "heart condition" and was supposed to be resting and recovering in the bed. All of the kids knew that their father had died. But the doctor would not allow anyone to tell Fay that Norman had died because it might be too much for her heart to handle. So, the kids just sat around being nervous and edgy. The doctor came and gave my Grandma a shot to keep her calm. Once the medication took effect, they were allowed to tell her about Norman. She later said that she already knew something bad had happened. My dad was not there yet because he was in Las Vegas working at a service station for the sumer.
So, that left my dad, the oldest and just out of high school down to Dell, the youngest at age 9 with 4 sisters in between without a father.
So, that is why the name Phil Barney had been in my head recently. He was part of the day that my Grandpa Robison died.

I have asked my aunts and uncles for stories about my Grandpa for a long time--long before my dad died. Since my Grandpa died 5 years before I was born, I knew very little about this man and I wanted to know more. I imagined him to be a lot like my dad in some ways. I just wanted to know more so I asked for stories. I didn't get any stories. My dad's siblings just said that it was too hard for them to talk about their dad because he had died when they were so young and at such critical points in their lives. It was too painful for any of them to write about him or talk about him, so I never got any details from any of them. I am sad now that my dad is also gone, so it is very important for me to write about my dad when I think of him so that my kids will know the kind of person that he was.
So, I'm sure there are many details that I don't know about from this day in 1965. If anyone who reads this knows more or can make any corrections, I would find it very valuable.

And because of my weird "thing" for obituaries...
here is a snippet of Phil's obituary--what a good man he was:
We are grateful for his good life, lived in the service of his fellow men. He served in law enforcement for 43 years, as a bishop of the Salina 4th Ward and as president of the Salina Utah Stake. Phil was born September 23, 1942 in Richfield to Harold J and Vera JaLune Barney. He was raised in the wonderful community of Central Valley and graduated from South Sevier High School in 1960. Active in high school sports, his heart was ever appreciative of his roots and to those who influenced his life for good. He served in the United States Army from 1961-1963 and attended college at Southern Utah University and Brigham Young University. On September 16, 1966 he married Sylvia Marie Gates in the Manti Temple. Forty-four years of loving and supporting each other will be continued through all eternity. Phil found his "niche" in law enforcement. His 43 years of service began as an officer for Richfield City in 1967. In 1968 he was hired by the Utah Highway Patrol. He was outstanding in his dedication to work, being highly recognized for his success in stolen car arrests and drug interdiction. The federal DEA included him as an instructor in drug interdiction conferences throughout the country. After 21 years, he hired on with Sevier County as a deputy continuing his efforts in drug task force work and drug interdiction. In 1999 he was elected as Sevier County Sheriff where he was serving his third term at the time of his death. Phil loved his officers, thoroughly enjoyed being involved with them and was very proud of his department and their exceptional work. He greatly enjoyed his involvement with the Utah Association of Sheriffs where he had served as an officer and president. Phil's greatest joy was his life with his wife and family.


Jess said...

one thing I know about Grandpa is that he stuttered when he talked but not when he sang. That's about all I know about him. I will try to see if I can get more stories about him and Grandma too from my Dad. He was so young when his Dad died, I can't even imagine it! I love reading your blog, you always have some little tidbit about our family that I never knew.

Amara said...

I hope his family finds this post somehow. It's so cool of you to do this. I don't like to think of the dead being forgotten. A whole life of effort and service and becoming the type of person we should be needs to be highlighted and remembered. I hope you get more stories. I wish I had some more of my grampa. I've been thinking a lot of him lately.