Man Who Served As Santa Last Year Died From Cancer In October But Left Behind Words Of Encouragement Recently Found In Santa House
When volunteers were cleaning out the Santa House that sits on Broad Street in Dunn this year they found an unexpected surprise. Among the dust accumulated and leftover supplies from last year’s holiday season was a scripture verse from the man who served as Santa Claus and passed away since last Christmas.
Billy Barfield spent hundreds of hours greeting children at Dunn’s Santa House in the last several years. His smile and hearty laugh brightened the holiday season of many children and adults for the last decade or more. He became a familiar site in downtown each December and will be missed during this year’s celebration of the holidays.
Earlier this year, Mr. Barfield was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer and died in October as a result of the disease.
Carolyn Elmore, whose family owns Elmore Furniture in downtown, found the note. The message caught her off guard.
“When I opened the house and saw it, it took my breath away,” Ms. Elmore said. “It was just something I wasn’t expecting.”
The almost surreal scene had the Santa hat Mr. Barfield wore on a Christmas tree overlooking the small room with the Bible verse sitting neatly in the chair where he rocked many an hour away, hosting many children on his lap. It feels almost as if the spirit of Santa Claus remains in the building.
The note quoted scripture from the book of John. Part of the quote includes the words “Let your heart not be troubled.” The remainder of the verse reads “Ye who believe in God, believe also in me. In my father’s house there are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And, if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there you may be also.”
Mr. Barfield’s wife, Annette, saw the words as a message from her husband.
“I think he knew something was wrong and he left that there to send a message,” Mrs. Barfield said. “It just took my breath away when I saw it. I am glad they found it.”
The Santa House tradition will continue this weekend as the Christmas season kicks off with the annual Dunn Christmas parade Saturday at 2PM. Mr. Barfield will be replaced by Rick Lashmit in the Santa House this year. A substitute for Mr. Lashmit may sit in at other times during the Christmas season.
-The Daily Record