John Douglas ‘Dugan’ Barr: 1942-2019

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John Douglas “Dugan” Barr – father, husband, brother, friend to most everyone he met, musician, attorney, and all-around example of a life well-lived – passed away on November 29 at the age of 77.

A lifetime resident of the north state, Dugan was a remarkable individual. He truly enjoyed people, and nothing brought him greater fulfillment than being with his family and helping people in need.

Dugan was born April 3, 1942, in Yreka, California, where his worldview, though singularly and vocally his own throughout his life, was no doubt a legacy of his parents, Everett and Edna Barr. Dugan was incredibly driven. At 13 he became an Eagle Scout—one of the youngest ever. He was an accomplished sharp-shooter for National Rifle Association shooting competitions, and proudly played the trumpet in the Yreka High School band.

He attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where he studied History and Philosophy. Perhaps more importantly, while at Reed, Dugan cultivated many friendships and explored his musical chops – both of which he would carry throughout his life. After Reed, he was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.

Dugan truly loved music. He especially loved to play the standup bass and a wide array of brass instruments. He played his guitar often for family and friends, typically after a meal he had prepared from the many recipes he had refined over his life, though he never wrote one down. During his favorite time of year, he would play Irish music for patrons of Redding’s local pub, Shameless O’Leery’s. He enjoyed all types of music, but had a soft spot for Irish, folk and jazz. Apart from his occasional performances at local venues, Dugan also organized the Shasta-Dixieland Jazz Festival in the 1990s.

Dugan had a keen wit and extraordinary intellect. The former he shared at most every opportunity as he drew from a seemingly bottomless well of one-liners, limericks, many-liners, and off-the-cuff-cut-ups. The latter he shared through his career as an attorney, always with an eye toward helping those in need.

After attending University of Chicago for law school, Dugan returned to the north state where he practiced for 52 years, up and until his passing. He handled cases nationwide and earned the respect of his clients and peers alike. He was a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers; a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, which recently presented him with the “Legends of ABOTA” award which is given only to those who, through the course of their career, as Dugan did, demonstrate impeccable trial skills, ethical conduct, and civility. Most any attorney who worked with Dugan, even those on the other side of cases, could tell a unique story of Dugan and would probably confess the respect and fondness they had of him. He strongly believed that a handshake should carry the same weight as a notarized signature.

Dugan was incredibly proud of the law firm he built; not just because of its success, but because of the familial bond he had with his partners and staff. The average work-life of a Barr and Mudford employee is 20 years—something he was very proud of. He was overjoyed that he was able to work side by side with two of his daughters for the last years of his life, and constantly reminded them how happy it made him.

Dugan had an unmistakable affect with people – they just liked him. Despite that often sharp wit, he was exceedingly kind and generous. In 2014, he and his wife, Terry, were presented with Past Mayor’s Philanthropic Achievement Award for their extensive charitable work and contributions to the Redding community, including, The American Cancer Society, Boy Scouts of America, Shasta Community Health Center, The Women’s Refuge, Shasta Historical Society, Asphalt Cowboys, Sober Graduation, Shasta Land Trust, People of Progress and the Shasta Family Justice Center.

Many of these contributions have furthered the cause of culture and the arts in our city, benefiting such groups as the Cascade Theatre, North State Symphony, Turtle Bay Exploration Park, KIXE-Channel 9 and Public Radio in our region.

Dugan was a trusted confidant to family and friends alike and was always available to work through an idea or issue.

He will be missed.

Dugan is survived by his best friend and loving and supportive wife of 39 years, Terry, as well as his brother Duncan Barr (Lisa), sister Judy Godino, son Ben Barr (Maria), daughters Carin Barr (Gregg Gratzel), Erin Barr-Zepeda (Enrique Zepeda), and Cathleen Barr (Patrick Hensleigh) as well as many grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by daughter Jenny Barr King.

There will be a celebration of life with lots of music and smiles in the New Year. In lieu of flowers, please donate to a school music program of your choice. Dugan always felt that music brings people together, and gives kids a gift they will never grow out of — though he lamented that music was always the first program to be cut.

May those who love us, love us. And those that don’t love us, May God turn their hearts.

And if He cannot turn their hearts, May he turn their ankles, So we’ll know them by their limp.” — Irish blessing

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8 Responses

  1. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Thank you for writing this. Perhaps I missed it, but there was very little on the news about Mr. Barr’s passing which seemed odd, knowing how active he was in the community. Condolences to his family and to the Mudfords.

    • Beverly, most of the north state media covered Dugan’s passing with positive tributes and stories.
      At ANC, we gave the family time to write Dugan’s obituary in their own time.

      My thoughts about Dugan will be published shortly.

      • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

        Looking forward to your article, Doni. I never met Mr. Barr, but I enjoyed the colums he wrote for ANC. Sorry I missed any local news tributes. Wrong place, wrong time apparently. Good of you to wait for the famly’s obituary before publishing your thoughts. I know they will be heartfelt.

  2. Avatar James Montgomery says:

    He was certainly a local institution. One of his greatest achievements, in my view, was preserving some important local buildings. particularly including the Pine Street School.

  3. Avatar erin friedman says:

    Dugan’s musical gatherings were pure joy. He introduced me to traditional Irish music – now one of my favorites. “Whiskey in the Jar” will always conjure memories of Dugan — I picture him singing, smiling and bringing people together – a beautiful legacy. Sending love to Terry and her family.

  4. Avatar Dana Laughlin says:

    Mr. Barr was a frequent patron at Corbetts Restaurant where I had the pleasure of waiting on him for many, many years…. he was always quick with a smile and some sort of witticism… it was always a good day when Dugan came to visit

  5. Terry Turner Terry Turner says:

    What a moving and beautiful tribute to our community icon, Dugan Barr. Thank you for sharing all his incredible accomplishments with us. I don’t have his gifts for wit and words, so I will just say:
    He exemplified a life well lived. I can just imagine that when he arrived in heaven, he was told “Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant!” And now he is singing with the angels. 🙂
    Rest in Peace, Dugan. My deepest sympathies to all who knew him.