Thomas Ross Barber, age 70, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, died April 4, 2020, of COVID-19 and heart failure at St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital. He was born in Dearborn, Michigan on May 19, 1949, the son of Nicholas Barber and June (Parsons) Barber, who both preceded him in death.
Tom graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Zoology, and pursued graduate work in Aquatic Biology at Eastern Michigan University. During the course of a long and varied career he taught, held various positions in manufacturing and business, and ran his own clothing company, Bronze Dragon Enterprises, specializing in unique silk-screened t-shirts.
Tom was an avid reader and preferred science fiction and fantasy works. While at Eastern Michigan University he was a member of their science fiction club, Waldo and Magic, and one of the founders of the science fiction convention ConClave, Inc. He was also actively involved with the University of Michigan’s science fiction club, the Stilyagi Air Corps, and their convention, ConFusion. Tom participated in various science fiction conventions all over the country, volunteering, running departments, and selling t-shirts. He was also a member of the organization the Dorsai Irregulars, who provide staffing services to many different conventions. The Dorsai became an extended family to Tom, and he treasured them. He served as their Quartermaster for many years.
Tom was a mentor to many over the years, both through the universities and the conventions, helping people to develop skills that would help them in various aspects of their lives. He was always ready to lend a hand, a shoulder, or some advice, and was known for his humor and wide smile. He had friends and connections all over the country, and was widely appreciated.
In 1988 Tom married Tara Edwards Barber. They were true life partners, and they celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary several months before his death. In 1995 their daughter Rhianon was born, and she was the apple of his eye. Tom was always there for them both, ready to help them and protect them from any eventuality. He was enormously proud of Rhianon, and was looking forward to her graduation from college just weeks from the time of his death. Her ambition is to become a librarian, especially sharing her love of reading with children, and her father was utterly delighted.
Tom is survived by his wife, Tara; his daughter, Rhianon; his brother, Todd Barber and sister-in-law Janet Barber; his brother-in-law, Page Edwards and sister-in-law Heidi Edwards; his nieces, Allison (Barber) Young, Lauren (Barber) Lockwood, and Rachel Edwards; his nephews, Nicholas Barber and Andrew Edwards; and his great-nephew, Dominic Young and great-niece, Samantha Lockwood; as well as nephews-in-law, Doug Young and Jeremy Lockwood; and a large and varied extended family.
Tom was a fighter until the end, and determined to beat COVID-19 and return to his family and friends. In the end he didn’t quite manage it, but he tried with everything he had. His warmth and friendship will be missed by too many to count. Tara and Rhianon will mourn him to the end of their days, but take with them the confidence and laughter he brought to them, and the knowledge that he would want them to carry on and find the happiness and enjoyment in every day. And read more books.
Cremation has taken place. A memorial will be held at a later time. In lieu of flowers please feel free to donate to the American Heart Association or the American Diabetes Association, to any reputable organization supporting the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, to any educational institution, or to any animal rescue or shelter organization.