Richard J. Barber Tribute

In Memoriam

Richard J. Barber

Photo courtesy of Lisa (Barber) Foxen

This was originally published in 2014.

Richard J. Barber passed away on 20 May 2014.

Dick’s life was devoted to PTC and he will always be fondly remembered with admiration and respect as the organization’s first Executive Director and pioneer in the establishment and development of the organization.

The idea for the Pacific Telecommunications Council was initiated by Dick after exploring the concept of a Pacific-based international telecommunications organization at a meeting in Washington, D.C. in 1977.

The first conference, jointly sponsored with IEEE, was held in 1978 and was attended by more than 100 international technology professionals. After that meeting, the Council was formed in 1979 and PTC was subsequently established as a legal non-profit entity in 1980. Dick was appointed Executive Director, a position he held until 1999.

The Hawaii-based annual conference eventually grew to a high of 1800+ attendees in the late 1990s and has again neared that in the past several years.

In addition to the annual conference, which remains the flagship event of the organization today, Dick facilitated numerous mid-year seminars and quarterly meetings, most held in locations throughout the Pacific region. These seminars helped to highlight the specific needs and aspirations of many countries in the development of their telecommunications systems and services in the belief that all people had the right to communicate.

Dick also attended many other industry events and promoted PTC at numerous international telecommunications conferences over the years, which helped immeasurably to grow the Council by drawing in many to the organization and its activities.

Dick was highly regarded by all for his tireless and professional conduct, calm demeanor, accessibility, friendliness, and can-do spirit. He never accepted failure and always had a smile. He was able to rally support around ideas that not only advanced the Council, but also made good on the promise of the mission of the organization to help improve the lives of the people of the Pacific Hemisphere.

Richard & Ora Mae Barber
Photo courtesy of Lisa (Barber) Foxen

Dick was a futurist in every sense of the word. His visions were reflected in the international meetings he created and the constant innovation he brought to the development of the organization and the content of the conferences.

He was always supportive of the inclusion of innovations that improved both the Council and the conference. That legacy continues as PTC strives to follow his example to be inclusive and mindful of present needs while also encouraging and fostering the innovations that bring vitality and sustainability to an organization that represents an ever-changing set of industries.

First and foremost, however, it was the community that Dick nurtured and the networks he formed of international telecommunications professionals from government, industry, and academia that brought vitality and purpose to PTC. Dick forged numerous partnerships with other organizations, many which endure today including the IEEE, the Pacific Islands Telecommunication Association (PITA), and CommunicAsia / Singapore Exhibition Services (SES), along with several universities among others.

Dick’s legacy lives on today in the organization that bears his indelible stamp.

We will all miss Dick and are indebted for his many years of service and devotion that formed the foundation of PTC. We will forever appreciate the path he laid out for us to continue to succeed in the future.

Do you have memories or comments about Dick you would like to share with the PTC community?
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  • Dick was always an inspiration and great friend. Although he carried the many pressures and details of administering a large organization, I was unaware of these as he made time to answer and assist not only me but so many others. When I first joined PTC in the early 90s he made certain that I was introduced to other key people and he advised me about what might be called PTC protocols in just the right way. I always felt he had taken me under his wing and insured that I would feel warm and welcome within what was a large and sometimes unknown consortium of strangers and new friends. Dick had a large smile, heart and wingspan. It is a great privilege to be among the many who honor him and who submit nominees for the award which bears his name. As long as there is PTC, his successful and inspiring spirit will never die.

    Tom Cooper Professor, Emerson College & Publisher, MEDIA ETHICS magazine
  • I came to know Dick Barber in 1993 in Singapore Telecom Show, I was impressed with his simplicity and personality to connect to people at ease with smile. It was so happen that I turn to PTC as an intern in December 1993 and become his disciple. With his leadership I set up a PTC Country Chapter in India in 1994 and it is still running as PTC India Foundation. I enjoyed a very close and great relationship with him and admired him as a Fatherly figure, It is a personal loss to me and I join with Ora his Dear Wife and Children in this hour and may God provide them solace to bridge the void created by his absence.

    BOB’ Anil Prakash Director General, India Security Council for IT & Telecom
  • Dick was a leader and professional who was willing to serve his colleagues and the fields we work in. We will remember him and his contributions. Mahalo Dick. Rest in Peace.

    Jay Gillette Professor, Information and Communication Sciences, Center for Information and Communication Sciences, Ball State University
  • Mr. Richard Barber’s initiative and unflagging devotion to PTC have made possible continuing explorations of the multifaceted global communications policies and technologies of today’s world. His unerring stewardship of PTC created the foundation for hugely successful fora which were interdisciplinary and insightful and encompassed industrial, socioeconomic, and at times cultural aspects of global communications. His understanding of and cooperation with regional chapters were highly regarded and richly appreciated throughout the Asia-Pacific areas. Our condolences go out to his bereaved family from the members of the PTC Japan Committee.

    Shinichi Nabekura Chairman, PTC Japan Committee
  • I met Dick at the time he had stepped down as PTC Executive Director about 2000. I was always struck by his calm & thoughtful enthusiasm. He obviously was very knowledgeable about the global telecom field as its potential. He saw the good that PTC could do.

    Bruce Drake Councillor, Village of Belcarra, British Columbia
  • Dear Mrs. Ora Mae Barber, We the Members of PTC India Foundation convey our deep sorrow on the sad demise of Mr. Richard J. Barber. He was a great friend and guided us in the initial years of formation of PTC India Foundation at New Delhi, India. He was a great human being and charmed everybody by his great human qualities and professionalism. May almighty God give you and your children strength to bear this great loss. A salutation carried in the Newsletter ‘Convergence’ of the year 1999 of PTC India Foundation is placed as attachment.

    All Members of PTC India Foundation New Delhi
  • Please accept my deep condolence for the loss of Dick Barber. We all appreciate his long lasted contribution from the foundation of PTC to the present properous PTC. Wish he stay in peace in his eternal home.

    Yasuhiko Kawsumi Special Advisor, The ITU Association of Japan
  • We missed Dick and I respectfully remember his longtime devotion to PTC with thanks.

    Keigo Komuro ex PTC VP
  • Dick was a rare person, the first to see the potential of telecom reform and ICT convergence for the Pacific, and to act on it by creating PTC as a venue where industry, government and the research community could find synergy on frontier developments. A modest, kind and considerate gentleman, he supported all participants generously and equally – students, CEOs and Ministers, earning great respect everywhere. He made PTC an important voice for the Pacific and the world.

    William Melody Professor, Aalborg University Copenhagen
  • When I read the obituary notice about Mr. Dick Barber I was astonished. . . . I felt very sad about this. He is the founded of PTC and the first ED of PTC. I know him since 20 years ago. He is my close old friend. Before we met we had had many communications by the e-mails. We contacted a lot, so when we met first time we shaked hands and he said ‘we meet finally’. I remembered many affairs and facts in my mind. It seems that many scenes occurred several days ago. He introduced me to be the first Chineses PTC member, and also introduced me to be the first Chinese BG. I joined PTC annual conference many times under the support of PTC. I think everything is including his efforts. Each time when I met him at the PTC conference hall ( In Hilton Hawaiian village ) he always wore an aloha shirt. He also introduced me to buy an aloha shirt. I have only one green color Aloha shirt. It is a remember for him. We had meetings, members’ meetings, BG meetings, seminars, mid-year meetings, banquets, dances, amusement together with him for many years. He is a very kind gentleman. He always has a smiling face. I introduced many Chinese friends to him. All of them liked him very much. We could never forget the familiar face. We could never forget his voice. Dear Barber: we miss you forever!

    KaiYuan Zhen Professor, Southeast University, China
  • During 25 years in senior positions with ITU, I met and worked with most of the leaders in global telecommunications and broadcasting. Dick Barber was among the best. He especially understood the needs of developing countries in the region. He did more to encourage and facilitate improved telecommunications in the small island nations of the Pacific than anyone else I know. As an unassuming, but effective, leader he built PTC from a tiny, annual regional conference to become the most important annual gathering for senior telecommunication and broadcasting leaders in the entire Pacific basin. I first met Dick in 1983 when I attended PTC’s conference as the representative of ITU. When I retired from ITU in 1994, I was honored to be offered a position on the staff of PTC, where I worked for the remainder of my retirement job years. During the years that we worked together on a daily basis, I was always impressed with Dick’s ability to find solutions to difficult problems and, especially, to build PTC into a high-quality global organization. Dick, I and all of your career colleagues, as well as thousands of the attendees of PTC conferences over the years, will miss you terribly.

    Richard Nickelson PTC External Affairs Manager (Retired)
  • We missed our honorable PTC community member.

    Suraj Singh Thapa Nepal Telecom
  • Dick Barber, from its early days, WAS PTC. But he would never admit that. He was the quiet and resourceful foundation of the organization — always concerned about its growth and sustainability, but also about its commitment to the island nations of the Pacific as well as its role as a showcase and meeting place for policy makers, researchers, and industry leaders. He welcomed everyone from junior academics to heads of international organizations and industry CEOs, making PTC a unique gathering place to share current information on research, policies, and technologies — especially as they related to the Asia-Pacific. I personally appreciated Dick’s spirit of Aloha and invitations to engage in helping to shape and grow PTC, and have made many contacts and friendships through the bond of PTC. I hope his legacy will be remembered and reflected in PTC’s future activities and directions.

    Heather Hudson Professor, Communications Policy, University of Alaska Anchorage
  • It was with great sadness I heard of the passing of Dick Barber. I had come to know him over the years as I attended PTC as a journalist and editor. He was unfailingly quiet and civilized – and helpful. I remember in passing my mentioning to him about a lost shipment – and there in the middle of the PTC conference, he insisted on dropping everything and scouring the Sheraton Hotel until we found it (we did). We live in an age where things and people are loud. They are noisy. They scream to make themselves heard. Dick was none of those things. I consider him and his accomplishments – particularly through setting up PTC – to be instead the accomplishments of a quiet man. A generous man. A man who wanted to make a difference. He was a good man. And if I may say so exhibited the traits of being a good American – willing to promote those around him in the world to better things. We miss you.

    Stephen McClelland
  • PTC India Foundation was set up in 1994 at New Delhi, as India Chapter of PTC. Mr Richard J. Barber was the guiding force and his help in our initial years was immense in putting PTC India Foundation on course. He visited New Delhi a number of times during our initial Annual Conferences and met the Members and participants personally. This year (1994), PTC India Foundation has completed 20 years and is bringing out a brochure to Commemorate its 20 years. Photograph of Mr. Richard J. Barber showing his participation in 1st Annual Conference of PTC India Foundation, held at New Delhi in March 1995 will be one of the highlights of this document.

    Narinder Chhibber Secretary General, PTC India Foundation

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