ROCK HILL — Friends and family of Caldwell Barron Sr. filled the halls of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rock Hill with laughs and chatter Tuesday afternoon, recalling a man who served 25 years in local politics and remained a community fixture well after he left office.
Barron, 95, died Saturday from complications of congestive heart failure. The Rock Hill native served 10 years on the Rock Hill City Council and 15 years on the York County Council starting in the early 80s finishing his final term there as chairman in 1992.
Family members described him as a hardworking people person with a vigor for life and all things Rock Hill.
Ive always been struck not just by the heart he had for Rock Hill, but the heart Rock Hill had for him, said grandson Pete Murray of Greenville.
He recalled the summers he spent with his grandparents playing golf and getting spoiled.
Barron played a big role in Murrays life, persuading him to attend The Citadel, from which Barron himself graduated in 1939. Barron was a WWII veteran and served in the U.S. Army for 23 years.
Barron remained steadfastly independent, family members said, working an early shift at a local recycling center even after he entered the Westminster Towers retirement community as a way to continue meeting local people. He reluctantly retired from the position at 92.
Bebs Barron Chorak of Rock Hill recalled how her uncle had trouble with the retirement communitys security when he tried to get to his 7 a.m. shifts at the recycling center.
He knew he was moving to a retirement house, she joked. He didnt know it was a prison.
Barron was a supporter of small businesses and a businessman himself.
He ran a cold storage business in Rock Hill for 25 years until a local slaughterhouse closed down. He then worked with Choraks father running Rock Hill Hardware on Main Street, a mainstay in the community until it closed in 1978.
Terry Plumb, former editor of The Herald, said Barron was respected by many in the community and was known for his self-deprecating humor.
He would come around The Herald for a long time, just periodically stop in and chew the fat and talk about politics, Plumb said.
As a county councilman, Barron faced tension from Rock Hill city officials when the county and city disagreed over a proposed plan for a countywide sewage and water system. His daughter, Helen Barron, recalled the so-called water wars that seemed to splinter the county at the time.
People went around and threw cow manure at his (campaign) signs, she said.
His love for politics remained, she said, despite all the negative aspects that come with being in the public spotlight.
Barron was among several local politicians who started his career as a Democrat and ended it as a Republican. He and his wife of 72 years, Helen, remained active in the community and were regular church goers. He met his Bible study group on Thursday mornings and attended weekly prayer breakfasts on Fridays.
Family members said his wifes death last year hit Barron hard.
He was ready to go, Murray said.