Robert Jackson Barben, age 95, of Avon Park, Florida, peacefully passed away after a long and productive life on Tuesday, December 29, 2015. He was born June 22, 1920 in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania to John Kinsloe and Sarah (Simpson) Barben. After graduating from Juniata College, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps during WW II becoming a pilot and was stationed at the American Flight Training Base in Lakeland, Florida. In 1943, he was relocated to Avon Park, as a Training Instructor of B-17 Bombers, where he met and married his wife, Jane Hartt in 1945. After the war ended, they returned to Pennsylvania where he attended Dickenson School of Law, graduating in 1949. In 1950 Bob and Jane returned to Avon Park where he worked for his father-in-law, Earl W. Hartt, in the family citrus and cattle operation. In 1976 he established his citrus operation as Robert J. Barben, Inc. He was a member of the Avon Park Noon Rotary Club, a former Mayor of Avon Park from 1969-1974, a founding director of the Highlands County Growers Association and served on numerous councils and boards related to citrus, agriculture and conservation. He served as chairman of the board for the UF Foundation and the SHARE Council and was the recipient of the University of Florida's Distinguished Service Award for Agriculture. Bob was named Outstanding Agriculturist receiving the Agribusiness Institute’s White Hat Award for his commitment to his community and state’s agriculture. In 2012, he was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame and in 2015 into the Avon Park Champions Club Hall of Fame. He was a founding director and former Chairman of the Board of Highlands Independent Bank. Bob was a devout Christian who taught Sunday School and served as the Sunday School Superintendent for many years. He is survived by his wife of 70 years – Jane Hartt Barben; Children – Anne Furr (Mike), Robert H. Barben (Mary), Jane E. Cassaras (Michael), Melinda Colson, John Barben (Laura), Patricia Garcia (Robert), William Barben (Nicole); Nephew – Steve Hartt (Velva); Grandchildren – Allyson Park (Sean), Mary Michelle Immenschuh (Charlie), Stephen Furr (Katy), Robert H. Barben, Jr., Bailey Barben, John Michael Cassaras (Courtney), Robert Cassaras, Nicholas Cassaras (Kristi), Jennifer Jackson (Ryan), Tate Colson, Ashleigh Barben, Jackson Barben, Mark Barben, William Garcia, Stephen Garcia, Kinsloe Barben, William Barben; Great Grandchildren – Christopher Park, Lizzie Park, Josephine Immenschuh, Blair Cassaras, Emma Furr; Great Nephews – Brad Hartt (Randie Jo), Ryne Hartt; Brother-in-law – Leonard Fuoss and nephews Bill, Bob and John Fuoss. He was preceded in death by his sister – Joanne “Jody” Barben Fuoss. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 9, 2016 at 11:00 AM at the Avon Park Lakes Baptist Church. A private interment will be held in Bougainvillea Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Good Shepherd Hospice, 1110 Hammock Road, Sebring, FL 33870. www.chaptershealth.org or United Methodist Home for Children, Inc. www.umhcservices.org in Pennsylvania.
Avon Park, Highlands County
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