Teddy Barber, a former White Sands Missile Range scientist and community volunteer was inducted into the WSMR Hall of Fame, Aug. 16.
Barber, who is deceased, was recognized during the ceremony that started with a luncheon and ended at the installation’s museum where an unveiling of his plaque took place.
Barber’s photo will be hung on the Hall of Fame wall inside the WSMR Museum with fellow Hall of Famers to include Clyde Tombaugh, who is credited with discovering Pluto, and Wernher von Braun, the inventor of the V-2 rocket and the Saturn V.
“It’s a pretty high bar to be counted amongst this group,” said WSMR Commander Brig. Gen. Timothy Coffin during the luncheon ceremony. “He was the kind of person who didn’t let anything slow him down. It’s that kind of talent that we celebrate. He lived, he contributed, he fully participated, he did everything.”
Barber, who worked as a physicist with Atmospheric Sciences at WSMR, also worked to assist handicapped employees at WSMR, volunteered with the Boy Scouts, and his church in Las Cruces. He did so with less than five percent of his vision in one eye and less than three percent in the other.
Having lost most of his vision at 16, Barber was afforded a reader in high school and graduated from Madras Union High School in 1952, he went on to receive a bachelor of science degree in general physics from Oregon State University and a Master of Science degree in physical chemistry at New Mexico State University.
He began working at WSMR in June 1958, shortly after obtaining his bachelor’s. While at WSMR Barber formulated and performed research studies in atmospheric remote sensing. He is credited for helping advance the radiometric and LIDAR or Light Detection and Ranging techniques to determine the vertical distribution, concentration, and diurnal variability of atmospheric aerosol, and investigated the effects of boundary layer aerosol on propagation of radiation. He also helped develop and improve a technology to remotely measure the wind.
“All of that provides a foundation of work that we’re continuing to do here at WSMR,” Coffin said.
Barber’s research had real-world implications in determining atmospheric impacts on artillery and high-energy laser propagation for the Army. Aside from his ground-breaking research, he was also recognized as the WSMR Handicapped Employee for the year in 1980, the next year he received the Army-wide recognition.
Barber met his spouse, Alice Maria Hermann at WSMR when she was working in the range’s typing pool. They were married in 1960 and had four children. Alice died in 1988 and Barber died in 2004. His daughter, Janet Barber Boehms, who helped nominated her father, accepted her father’s award on his behalf.
“I tried to put myself in my dad’s shoes to think of what he would say today,” Boehms said. “I know he would be standing before you with confidence knowing that he’s working and deserving of this honor.”
Outside of WSMR, Barber dedicated time to visually handicapped projects, to the Federation for the Blind and to the New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped. Twice, in 1982 and 1986, Barber received the President’s Trophy nomination for the state of New Mexico. The nominations were forwarded by the New Mexico governor’s committee on the Concerns of the Handicap and were made “for outstanding performance in surmounting his handicap and facilitating employment of other handicapped individuals.” In 1985, Barber was named Handicapped Worker of the Year by the Las Cruces Committee on the Concerns of the Handicapped.
Barber also served as a mentor for young men in Las Cruces with Troop 69 of the Boy Scouts of America. He served as an adult leader beginning in 1964 and as scoutmaster from 1967 to 1987. As part of the troop, Barber participated with the boys on numerous camping and hiking trips and multi-day backpacking trips in the Southwest.
“This man had more vision than anybody I’ve ever met,” said Derek Hartley, a cub scout who was mentored by Barber. “His research and knowledge base was unbelievable. He was a walking encyclopedia, he knew everything. The reason I do cub scouting is because of that man. There are generations of scouts and good citizens that come because of that man. He was just something else, there was nothing he feared and nothing would slow him down. I appreciate that man so much.”