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Forestry pioneer Barringer known for ‘doing good in the community’

By Scott Swanson
Of The New Era/Lebanon Local

Jack David Barringer, a “quiet” leader in Sweet Home and a pioneer in local forestry, died Sept. 24, 2022.

Barringer, 92, spent 34 years in local timber management, the last 14 as president of what is now Cascade Timber Consulting, the firm that now manages some 145,000 acres of timber in east Linn County, the majority of that for Hill Timber interests.

“Jack was a very quiet man,” recalled Alex Paul, former publisher of The New Era. “He was very smart, very community-oriented. He had the typical Hill Timber mentality of doing a good job with the property, doing good in the community.”

“He was a man of integrity,” said Dave Furtwangler, whom Barringer hired in 1985 after Georgia Pacific shut down its Toledo woods operation. “That’s what really stood out to me.”

“He was a precise forester,” remembered Howard Dew, whom Barringer hired in 1970 as director of silviculture for the company. “He was one who demanded excellence and usually got it. He was a very fair and honest person to work with.”

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Barringer moved with his family moved to California as a youngster. He attended high school and college in the Bay Area, then joined the U.S. Navy in 1952, the year he married Dotty Degen. Barringerflew AD-4N Skyraiders off the aircraft carriers USS Yorktown and USS Essex. He until he was honorably discharged in 1955.

The Barringers moved to Corvallis where he attended Oregon State University and earned a degree in forest management in 1958.

Barringer went to work for Timber Service Co., now CTC. He founded the Mason Seed Orchard on Hufford Ridge, creating a 75-acre test facility representing the three elevation zones common to Hill property.

The farm, established in 1960, is one of the oldest consistently operating seed orchards in the Pacific Northwest, consistently producing genetically superior seed for Hill’s reforestation effort for nearly 70 years.

“Its progeny grace experimental plots in numerous plantations around the world in China, New Zealand, and Canada,” stated a 2003 biography of Louis Hill, who led the Hill Family’s timber interests for many years.

“Over the years it has produced 3,583.67 pounds of seed. This translates to 50-60 million seedlings, 25 million planted on approximately 50,000 acres, representing about one-third of the Hill property.”

In 1978, Barringer took over Timber Service Company, which was renamed Barringer and Associates. Under his leadership, the company moved from what is now the Chamber of Commerce headquarters to its current headquarters, at 3210 Highway 20, across from what is now City Hall.

“That was quite the project for Jack,” Dew said, adding that

He ushered the firm into a new era, though the transition was already in place when Barringer replaced Gene Ellis, who took operations from weeks-long mule trips into the forest to helicopter logging.

“When I went to work at Timber Service Company, we were in the chamber office and there were three of us – Larry Blem, myself and Jack, three foresters and very few employees compared to what it is now,” Dew recalled. “Jack was pretty much leading us all forward, getting the operation to where it is today.

“He was very involved in forestry. Before I got there he was very involved with the seed orchard. When I took over in 1970, things were pretty much in place for the first generation of that orchard. We moved it forward three generations.”

Former employees remember that Barringer was involved in the Rotary Club and other service groups and encouraged his staff to be active in the community.

He was honored as the Chamber of Commerce’s Junior First Citizen in 1963

Barringer retired in 1993, replaced as president by Blem, and the company’s name was changed to Cascade Timber Consulting.

Current CTC president Milt Moran was hired by Barringer in 1972 as a seasonal employee, as Moran finished his forestry degree at Central Oregon Community College. He started full-time with the company the following year.

“He was a very good forester and a really good boss,” Moran said. “He was very, very firm but very, very fair. He always looked out for the best interest of the Hill Family owners, making sure they got a fair shake.”

Moran recalled that Barringer liked to ski “and he was a really good golfer.”

“He was very competitive, but he was also a lot of fun to be around.”

Some people found it challenging to communicate with Barringer, he remembered, “but he and I were always able to communicate really well.”

“I would tell people, ‘you just have to work at it a little bit.'”

What Barringer said was cast in concrete, Furtwangler said.

“His word was his bond. If he said something, you could count on it.

“I remember a couple of times that I wasn’t sure exactly that I was doing everything he wanted me to do,” Furtwangler recalled. “I’d go in and talk to him: ‘Am I doing what’s needed, what you want?’

“Jack would say, ‘Well, Dave, if you don’t hear anything from me, everything’s good.'”

Moran recalled a time when Barringer was at a logging job, as the company worked a Willamette Industries contract.

“He scooped up a hard hat full of mud and set it on the desk of the Willamette Industries boss. The next day the helmet was there, clean.”

Furtwangler said he remembered how, when the company went through some legal issues around 1990, the integrity that Barringer demonstrated carried the day through what he and others recall as a “difficult” time.

“He was very methodical in the things he did,” said Dew, adding that the integrity of the company was what attracted him to work there. “Jack thought things through carefully. That’s a trait he passed on to almost everybody else who worked there.

“”We’re going to be careful here, do it right.'”

Said Moran: “He was a really great guy to have as a friend, a boss.”