TWIN FALLS — Educators and friends are remembering Andy Barron, a popular teacher and coach who touched thousands of lives, as a positive, caring person who mentored many of the district’s current leaders.
Barron served many roles during his 30-year career with the Twin Falls School District — including as Twin Falls High School‘s associate principal and activities director until his retirement in 2007.
He died Thursday at age 67. His wife of 44 years, Mary Barron, is a Twin Falls school board trustee.
Following a surgery, Barron — who was a very active person — unexpectedly suffered a massive heart attack, said his best friend Dr. David McClusky.
School district spokeswoman Eva Craner said school officials reached out to Barron’s family and they’re not ready to comment.
The thing that stands about Barron is the love he had for Twin Falls High, school district Superintendent Brady Dickinson said. “He really poured his heart and soul into his job there.”
When Dickinson earned his master’s degree, he did his internship shadowing Barron. He said he learned a lot from the way Barron approached his job and his passion for education.
“He was a mentor to me as I was entering the point in my career where I was transitioning to an administrator,” he said.
McClusky got to know Barron through their children — who are now adults — when they were playing sports together.
“We just had a friendship ever since then,” he said.
Barron had good Christian values, and acted with integrity, honesty and was a caring person, McClusky said. “He was that type of person, just because he was there and was your friend, it made your day happier and brighter because of him.”
Barron was also the person you called if you needed help, McClusky said, and was a supportive friend.
They shared fun experiences together, too, such as taking a group of high schoolers to Washington, D.C.
Ty Jones, executive director of the Idaho High School Activities Association, has known Barron for decades, beginning when Jones was a student at Twin Falls High.
Jones said he’s in shock over Barron’s death. While he was in Twin Falls a few weeks ago, he chatted with Andy and Mary after seeing them downtown eating lunch.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever met a more positive, caring individual than Andy Barron,” Jones said.
He had Barron as a social studies teacher and coach at Twin Falls High in the early 1980s. Jones’ father was also a coach with Barron.
Barron was probably ahead of his time with his coaching style, Jones said. “He was not the ‘tough as nails’ kind of coach. You definitely knew as a kid that he cared for you.”
Years later when Jones was a new athletic director in Jerome, Barron took him under his wing. Many times, they drove together to Pocatello to meetings.
“You always knew you could call him and get any type of advice and help from him,” Jones said.
Barron made an impact on his students, he said, and the whole athletic program at Twin Falls High “has Barron’s fingerprints all over it.”
Bill Hartley, a school counselor at Vera C. O’Leary Middle School, worked with Barron for about 15 years at Twin Falls High.
Even though Hartley wasn’t a coach, he and a couple others traveled with Barron to many Twin Falls High away games, “from Nampa to Rexburg and all points in-between,” Hartley said.
There was always a meal involved, as well as lots of stories and laughs, he said. “You were guaranteed to have a great time with Andy.”
People gravitated toward Barron because he was fun to be around, Hartley said, but was also a hard worker and rule follower.
As a school employee, “if you ever needed a pick-me-up, you went to Barron’s office,” he said. “You always felt better when you left than when you went in.”
While at ISU, his met Mary. They married and had two children, son Josh and daughter Sara.
Over 34 years as an educator and coach, he received many awards.
His first job in Twin Falls was as a social studies teacher, as well as head wrestling coach and assistant football coach, beginning in 1977. He took on the extra responsibility of intramural director in 1980 and track coach in 1984.
Barron became vice principal at Vera C. O’Leary Junior High School in 1985 and district activities director from 1986-88. He was associate principal at Twin Falls High starting in 1989 and also took on activities director responsibilities in 1998.
Even after his retirement, he stayed plugged in with the school district. He helped with the drug testing program and at sporting events.
Barron ended up finding a second career — for the U.S. Forest Service as a driver and supply and distribution officer during fire seasons. He worked up until September.
Barron enjoyed traveling around the world with Mary and their friends, and to southern California each year. He also loved having coffee each week with friends at Java.
McClusky said he’s encouraging people to remember Barron’s friendship and the love he showed to others by emulating him. “That’s what made our lives great and what he gave to this community.”