Robert “Bobby” J. Barefoot

    Birth Date: 06/04/1941
    Deceased Date: 02/01/2021

    Robert (Bobby) J. Barefoot, beloved husband, father and papa, passed away after a brief illness on Monday, February 1, 2021 at the age of 79. Bobby was born on June 4, 1941 in Dunn, N.C. to Bernard and Lillian Barefoot.

    As a young child, Bobby suffered from rheumatic fever and was unable to walk for a year. While recovering and looking out his window watching planes fly, he promised himself that if he could walk again, he would learn to fly. At the age of 16, he did just that. He made his first solo flight on January 9, 1959 and received his private pilot’s license on April 14, 1961. This began a lifelong love for aviation.

    It was this love of flying that introduced him to the love of his life, Linda J. Denning (of Buies Creek), who he was happily married to for 58 years. They met when Bobby was teaching his future father-in-law how to fly. The two married during their junior year at Campbell University and graduated in 1964. Bobby majored in religion and social studies. He went on to complete a year at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and earned his teaching certificate in 1965. In 1967, they welcomed their son, Brian and in 1970, their daughter, Amy.

    Bobby was bi-vocational for the majority of his career serving as a teacher and minister. He taught social studies at Philo Junior High in Winston Salem, N.C., followed by three years teaching economics and sociology, U.S. history and civics at Selma High School in Selma, N.C. From 1969 until 1995, Bobby taught U.S. history, contemporary affairs, government, English and aviation science at Smithfield-Selma Senior High School in Smithfield, N.C. While teaching full time, he also taught social studies at night school at Wayne Community College twice a week for three years. For eight years during his summers, he worked with the Johnston County Health Department as a migrant camp inspector. His love for learning and helping people had no bounds. He once drove a migrant worker to the hospital who was having a heart attack to make sure he received proper medical care.

    Bobby was the first pastor for Westfield Baptist Church in Dunn, N.C. right after graduating from college. He later served as the pastor for Carter’s Chapel Church in Selma, N.C. for eight years. Throughout Johnston County, Bobby served as an interim pastor for 11 different churches. Too many to count, Bobby performed marriage ceremonies and funerals for the many families he knew and loved.

    For many years, he worked two if not three jobs. As a pastor and high school teacher, he positively touched the lives of everyone he met. There weren’t many places he could go where he didn’t run into a former student or a church member. When he retired from teaching in 1995, he couldn’t quit it completely. He went on to teach a Sunday school class on the radio as a member of First Baptist Church in Smithfield, N.C. for eight years.

    His love of the sky brought a new hobby to fill his time during retirement. He became an avid astronomer and loved to share his knowledge with anyone willing to come to his house, stand in the heat or cold and look through his many telescopes. Bobbly was also a lifelong wood worker. He spent many hours in his workshop sketching ideas and making them come to life. His workshop was a place where he could think, dream and create.

    In 2017, he took on the greatest role of his life, when his grandson, Simon, was born. Even in the last few years of his life when dementia stole his memories, Simon was a grounding presence that brought happiness whenever he was around.

    Bobby loved people. He loved teaching, preaching and flying. He will be remembered for his kindness and compassion and his unwavering love for his wife and children.

    Bobby is survived by his wife, Linda Denning Barefoot, his son Brian Barefoot and son-in-law, Carlos Serpas, his daughter Amy Barefoot Graedon and son-in-law, Dave Graedon and grandson, Simon Graedon.

    Because of the pandemic, there will be a private graveside service for immediate family. In the future, when it is safe to gather, the family will have a memorial service to celebrate the wonderful life of Bobby Barefoot.

    In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to The Lee Colbert Ministry Center, First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 209, South Fourth Street, Smithfield, N.C., 27577.

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