LIFE SKETCH OF REUBEN ROSS BARZEE
Contributor: Anne Ryan Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
LIFE SKETCH OF
REUBEN ROSS BARZEE
April 30, 1946 - June 22, 1992
(Given at his funeral)
ON APRIL 30, 1946, a bundle of joy was born in the Rigby maternity home to George and Vera Barzee. He had a hard time coming into this world and was blue when he finally arrived, but after just a few hours he was fine. His parents took him home to two brothers and two sisters: Doyle, Maxine, Vivian, and Bruce. Later he gained two more brothers and two more sisters: Allen, Larraine, Joyce, and Bryant.
The family home was in Roberts and there he always stayed. From the time he was young, he always liked to swim in the canal, ice skate on the slough, hunt and fish, and tinker with mechanical things. When he was big enough to ride one, he was also quite a motorcycle buff.
When he was just three or four, he and Bruce had quite a river adventure up at Birch Creek. They dragged the old tub down to the spring at the ranch house and thought they could make their get-away from Grandma by floating in the tub down the creek, because she was coming after them with a stick. They both jumped into the tub taunting, "Ha ha, Grandma, you can't catch us." But the tub bottomed out and she caught them anyway.
Reuben has been known affectionately as "Bushy" most of his life--a name given to him by Aunt Marcia Harkness. When he was four or five years old, he went up to Aunt Marcia's. She had a box of assorted nuts stored under her bed and he went and pulled the box out, ate what nuts he wanted, and then slid the box back under the bed. So Aunt Marcia called him an old bushy-tailed squirrel. He started out the door and got part-way home before he thought of a good comeback. He turned right around, went back, opened the door, and said, "Mawshee, yo' an old cow tud." She laughed over that for years, and the name "Bushy" stuck with him all these many years.
When Reub was about ten years old, to show his ingenuity, he took some old heating ducts, torn out of the church house here when they tore it down, and put them together and shaped them like boats, poked nails in them, pounded the nails over, and sealed it with tar. He made four or five boats this way. The boys had a great time on the slough with these and had boat battles. They finally managed to sink them all and that was the end of their boating.
One time, Allen came home in the wee hours of the morning from a hearty party, driving Reub's old green pickup, and he drove into a building--one which you might all be familiar with--taking out a tree along the way. Well, the madder Mom and Dad got at him, the more they cussed him out, and Reuben came right along behind them mocking them, laughing the whole time. The madder Mom and Dad got, the funnier Reub thought it was. Heck, he wasn't even upset about his truck. Oop kept glancing back at Bushy and smiling, but he didn't dare let Dad see him. By the way, he replaced the tree with an old used Christmas tree.
Reub and Oop were the best of partying buddies and even trucked together for two years. They saw a lot of country and hauled many different types of loads, mostly in the western part of the United States. For two brothers to be in the close confines of a truck that much can be taxing, but they got along really well. They often took Raelene's brothers, Bruce and Rod, along with them to show them some of the country.
Bushy was one of the best mechanics around. Any time any of us had a mechanical problem we needed help with, he was the one we went to. Between Reuben, Bruce, Allen, and Dad, there wasn't anything they couldn't figure out. He was always willing to help. While in high school, he was always fixing up an old car either for himself or someone else. Again, you could often find him and his brothers and his dad working on cars and trucks together. They did many, many things together, swapping ideas and knowledge, forming a bond with each other that few fathers and sons ever experience.
Oop says that, being three years younger than Bushy, he was easily led astray and was quite often headed for trouble when along would come Reuben and drag him out of the situation and tell him that's not what he needed to do. He didn't always keep Oop out of trouble; however, he sure did try.
Reuben always had a tremendous love and respect for the outdoors. While other boys were playing basketball, he was out scouting the hills and mountains of Birch Creek, and knew them like his own back yard. He loved to go four-wheeling or just get on his motorbike and head for the hills. He always had a brother--or brothers--Dad, cousins or friends that were more than willing to go exploring with him. But if no one wanted to go, he would just go by himself. The old cabin at Birch Creek was as much home to him as any place else and he spent every chance he could there. As the years went by and the cabin became more run down, Reuben spent a great deal of time, energy, and resources trying to fix the old place up and make it comfortable for everyone.
His brothers, and many others, all remember the many hunting trips they went on and the hard work they went through to get their game out. Allen says they never left their game. In fact, Bryant remembers the time he and Bushy threw their game over a cliff because they couldn't get it down any other way.
Right after he got back from Nam, he and two friends were scouting out the game area for the upcoming hunting season when they saw the big "Monster Buck of Scott Canyon." Well, Reub's friend couldn't pass up this opportunity, so he shot it--a little ahead of season. As soon as they got it down to the mouth of the canyon, there was the Game Warden to greet them. Undaunted, they got out their cameras and took turns posing for and snapping pictures of each other and the prize buck--and even coaxed the Game Warden to pose in the pictures with the gang. When the pictures were all taken, the Game Warden said he had to take their prize from them. So he took the buck and wrote a ticket to Reuben's friend.
Last year, he went up with his father and brothers-in-law to the Tin Cup area and spent many weekends scouting for the "BIG BULL MOOSE." Just before the season ended, he found one and shot it. He made the BOONE 'N CROCKETT NATIONAL RECORD BOOK with his trophy BULL MOOSE. This put him on a high for months.
Reub's shooting skills were second to none. He could shoot quarters at 200 yards and dimes at 100. After winning several local shooting matches, he became well respected as a superior marksman.
Reuben worked at many different jobs from the time he was a boy. He moved sprinkler pipe, hauled hay, worked as a sawyer for the Yellowstone Stud Mill, cut timber with Dick Wood and cellar timber for his Uncle Ross Lake, and helped him in the building of cellars also. Most of the work he did was physical work because he was a physical kind of guy. He worked hard at keeping his physique in shape. When he was in Viet Nam, he sent home many pictures showing off his muscles; and they were definitely something to be proud of.
In 1965, Reub joined the National Guard with the 116th Engineers Battalion; and in 1968, they were called to active duty and were sent to Viet Name. While in Nam he was decorated with the "SILVER STAR, BRONZE MEDAL, AND PURPLE HEART"..........(Jim's Army Stories here).............
When Reuben got home from his tour of duty in Nam, Allen was just leaving for his tour over there. Reuben knew what Oop was in for and had a really hard time seeing him go. Without a word, and with tearful eyes, he told Oop goodbye.
When Reuben first started dating Raelene and was starting to get ready for one of their nights out, he told Joyce he had to "stink purty," and asked her to go run him some bath water, which she willingly did--just like she would run one of her own. Well, he wasn't so tickled about it when he saw the bubbles foaming up out of the tub. She thought a nice bubble bath would do the trick, but he wasn't too keen on the idea. But it did make him "stink purty"! So it must've worked.
One of the many reasons Raelene married Reuben was for his wit and sense of humor. She knew on their first date that she would capture his heart and his hand in marriage, because he took her to the old Paramount theater to the balcony and on the way up the stairs he asked her if she'd like some popcorn. She said, "Sure," and he said, "Well, hurry up before somebody steps on it!" And right at that very moment she knew she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. He proposed to her in December of 1972 after two years of courtship and lots of missed days of school so she could ride in the potato truck by his side.
On June 29, 1973, they were wed and from then on he drug her up and down every mountain and canyon in Birch Creek, mostly on her rump on top of the shale and rock. But she learned to love Birch Creek just as he did and they spent lots and lots of time under the stars on the ground under the trees with rain pouring down.
In November of 1977, they were blessed with a bouncing beautiful daughter whom they named Raegan and who brought lots of joy to them both. At only two days old, Reuben insisted on taking her for coffee; so he loaded her up in blankets and quilts and off they went to Grandma Barzee's.
In January of '81, another beautiful daughter was born and named Raquel. Even though it was the dead of winter, Reub, Raegan, and Raquel all went for coffee to Grandma's.
Reuben always saw to it that pancakes and eggs were cooked at 4:00 a.m., waiting for the girls to nuke the in the microwave when they awoke for school. He was the love of his daughters' lives.
Music was another of Reuben's great loves. He would get with friends like "Gillie," Dan Robinson, and Dennis Jackson; and they would play for some local gigs. He played with Joyce and Bryant at several shindigs, including Mack's Inn before it burned down.
Reuben and Joyce spent many hours pickin' "geetar." At one of their first gigs that they did together, he got a little lost with the chords. In fact, on some songs he had no idea where the changes even were. He would look at Joyce for help, with pure terror in his eyes, and ask "Where is that son-of-a- ?!" Every time he talked to Joyce he would tell her that he needed her to teach him some new "hot licks" on the guitar and he was always eager to learn new songs. He especially liked the old Jim Reeves and Marty Robbins songs. He liked to change the words and "mangle" the songs to make them comical. He even made up a few of his own songs which were hilarious. Joyce always told him that he missed his calling....He should have been a comedian. They started working up a musical comedy act.....she was the straight man and Reub was the funny guy. Everyone roared at his quick-witted humor and the crazy things he would come up with. Everyone knew they were in for a good time when they saw Reub walk in.
Reub was always saying that the walls would fall in if he ever went to church, or they would have to pay him to attend; but a couple of years ago Joyce invited him to come do a program with her in her ward. He got up on the stage and said the only way he would sing was if they would pass the hat and give him the take. Well, there were no hats and they didn't have any money; but they passed a big basket and filled it with fruit from the center pieces on the tables. He got a big kick out of it when they gave it to him while he was singing a song near the end of the program. So he did get paid to go to church after all!!!!
Reub loved music so much and he was so eager to hand his love for it on to his daughters. He was so excited when he bought Raelene a big gorgeous piano, and he was always asking everybody to stop in and see how it sounded. In fact, his final request was that Raelene get a violin for Raquel so she could carry on this family tradition.
Everyone that knew Reub knew instantly of his keen wit. He always brought the sunshine in with him when he entered a room. His mom always talked about how she could be so down and he would come in and say, "Hi, Maw," and have her laughing and feeling better in just minutes. Probably of all his many talents, this is the one that touched us the most every time we saw him. He was always asked to M.C. or speak at family gatherings because he could turn anything into a joke. Such a sense of humor is a rarity, and we shall miss it terribly.
At a company party a few years ago, they had an auctioneer who wasn't getting much of a response; so Reub asked to take over the auction for a bit. Later, when he was relating the tale to Dad, he said, "Hey, I did purty darn good. I got three bucks fer an egg."
Reuben always loved a good practical joke, and he could give as good as he got. However, one time he, Oop, and Dad were up in a canyon in the Birch Creek area prospecting and they found a couple of rattlesnakes. Dad took the laces out of his boots, and Reuben was using it to try to lasso one of the snakes. He was down on his belly concentrating on one of the snakes which had crawled beneath the rock. About that time, Dad reached down and pinched Reuben on the back of his leg. Well, Reub thought he'd been bitten and jumped from the rock to land several yards below the snakes. When he turned around and looked at Dad, who could never hold a straight face in these situations, he knew immediately he'd been had. He looked at Dad and said, "DDD--Dammit--DDD--Dad, it's n-n-n-not fffffunny!" But Dad and Oop sure thought it was. They've all laughed about it for years, but Dad had yet to figure out where Reub got the energy to jump so far from a stationary position.
Reuben was always willing to help out and didn't have a selfish bone in his body. He would give anything he had to help people--his abilities or his resources--and he gave it without a second thought. When his sister Larraine was trying to figure out a way to go to college, he was on his way to Viet Nam. He came to her and asked her if she could use some money, since he figured he would have no need of it over there. She told him she could probably use about $30 a month, and he scoffed at that. He said, "How about $200 a month?" He pretty well financed her first year in college.
He and Raelene always liked their pets. They had a parakeet named Freda that would always get on his shoulder. Reuben always had a toothpick in his mouth and they would play tug-of-war with the toothpick. When Reuben would get the toothpick away from Freda, he would put it in his mouth from cheek to cheek and open his mouth and Freda would look in his mouth to see where the toothpick had gone.
Reuben and Raelene were always so good to buy Mom and Dad wonderful gifts on special occasions like Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas, and birthdays. Their home is filled with cherished gifts from them.
Reub was a devoted son as well as loving father and brother. He would stop in and see Mom and Dad almost daily, and Mom would always have some peach cobbler or some other goody there for him. He was always good to look in on them and see that they had the things they needed and were taken care of. If he saw something that he thought either of them would enjoy, he enjoyed getting it for them.
Reuben prized his family most of all. His wife and daughters meant the world to him. Over the years, he commented often on how happy he was to be married. His girls were his pals and he took them with him everywhere he went. One of the high points in his life was when he took Raegan and Raquel down the Salmon River last fall. This was a real thrill to him to take them steelhead fishing and let them catch some fish and help them land them. He was thrilled to be able to provide for them the things that made them happy, and they were his pride and joy. He was proud of their home that Raelene kept so lovely. He also loved Raelene's family, and over the years they shared many wonderful times together. He loved her family as he did his own.
The last few months of Reuben's life were filled with heartache for him. Who knows what he was thinking or his state of mind when, on the afternoon of Monday, June 22, 1992, he took his trailer up to the bird refuge north of Roberts, took a chair outside, sat on it, apparently smoked a cigarette (he had long since given up smoking), took a gun, and ended it. In that split second, all our lives were changed. This earth lost one of her most delightful sons. His parents lost the light of their lives. His brothers and sisters lost a best friend. His friends lost a buddy. His daughters lost their pal.
Reub was just an overall good guy and will be missed by those he loved and who loved him so much.