Reflections on Cliff Barrows, Husband and Father

Hundreds of mourners gathered at Calvary Church in Charlotte, N.C., to celebrate the life of Cliff Barrows and corporately worship the God he lovingly served. Among them were Bonnie Thomas—the oldest of his five children with Billie, his late wife of nearly 50 years; and his second wife, Ann, whom he married in 1995 after Billie died of cancer.

At the Nov. 22 memorial service Bonnie and Ann shared some reflections on the man they loved.

“Dad was given two wonderful helpmates … my mom, Billie, who was his joy for almost 50 years,” said Bonnie. “Then, Dad was given Ann. Ann was, for him, his peace and serenity.”

“I’m so thankful that God allowed me to care for him until the last three or four days of his life,” Ann later said from the podium. “It was such a privilege and such an honor … I would do it all over again, if I could.”

Bonnie explained how the humility Barrows displayed among friends and colleagues was consistently practiced toward those who knew him best—his family: “Dad never liked people talking about him. If they started, he would always turn the spotlight back on them … and then talk about Jesus.”

She continued, “He loved the whole world, it seemed, at times … It wasn’t always easy, having a dad who belonged to the whole world. But I’m here to say that we are very grateful dad has enlarged our own hearts to see the value of every individual. God so loved not just us—(Barrows’) family and his friends—but He loved the whole world. And dad lived that every day of his life.”

Bonnie spoke of how her father wove a tapestry of Scripture as a banner over their family—and pointed to the Word of God as the final authority and the ultimate source of strength. Whether he lightheartedly bribed his children with a five-dollar bill to memorize a Psalm or comforted them with words from Isaiah when their mother was dying, Scripture was always his focus.

“I long to be more like him before I go home,” Bonnie said.