We’d like to take a moment to remember the life of a longtime UF/IFAS supporter, Robert J. Barben, who passed away on December 29, 2015. He was active in the UF/IFAS SHARE Council for 42 years, and was the SHARE Council Chair from 1983-1985. In addition, he was a UF Foundation Board member for 30 years.
Robert was born June 22, 1920 in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. After graduating from college, he enlisted in the US Army Air Corps to become a pilot during WWII. He was stationed in Lakeland, Florida, and later was relocated to Avon Park. There he met and married his wife, Jane. In 1950, Robert began working for his father-in-law in the family citrus and cattle operation. In 1976, he established his own citrus business, Robert J. Barben, Inc. Robert and Jane have seven children, all of whom graduated from the University of Florida.
Robert will be remembered for his commitment to Florida agriculture through his service on numerous councils and boards related to citrus, agriculture, and conservation. He was a founding director and former Chairman of the Board of Highlands Independent Bank, and served as the Mayor of Avon Park from 1969-1974. He received the University of Florida’s Distinguished Service Award for Agriculture, and was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Avon Park Champions Club Hall of Fame in 2015.
His legacy continues to positively impact the lives of others through the Robert J. and Jane H. Barben Family Scholarship/Fellowship Endowment.
Adapted from The Tampa Tribune. Read the full article here.