May 30, 2012 Edition

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A tribute to Barney Baker

R. Paul Waits
Guest Writer

(Editor's note: Barney Baker of Walnut Ridge died Sunday at The Med in Memphis. He had sustained critical injuries weeks earlier in a fall from a ladder at his home.)

I first met Barney Baker in 2001, almost 11 years ago, when I took over Ritter Communications in Jonesboro, and worked with him until I left the company last year. Now as we consider his transition from this world, and reflect on his life, I realize some lessons that Barney taught me through his example about service, and about success.

One fundamental of service work is a consistent attitude, a temperament that meets the daily problems that must be solved with cheerful countenance and caring. I learned you can't teach caring, the automatic taking of ownership of a customer's needs. Barney cared about his customers and showed it through his competence and his countenance. You could always count on Barney, which is why he was given many times the most important and sometimes the most difficult customers to manage.

Barney was a hero, the proverbial unsung soul who together with others like him formed the foundation of Ritter's success in Jonesboro. He was a team player in a team sport, and his parting now leaves a gaping hole in our hearts and in the ebb and flow of his team's assignments.

But for me, there, too, is another lesson from Barney's life to embrace, which is how we should define success. From Barney I learned that success is not in the number or size of headlines, not in the level of academic degrees, and not in the number of ticks in a bank account. Success is a feeling that cannot be measured in newsprint, diplomas or money. It is evidenced by how folks feel when they see you coming, or how they feel when you leave.

When you saw Barney coming, you knew your problem was going to be solved, and he was so impeccable in his attitude, there was a positive wake from his presence. I only hope and pray that I can learn to do as well.

Thank you, Barney.

We are confident that your soul's journey has found its place of resonance in Grace with Christ.

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