Billy "Bill" Barfield '60 May 2, 2023 1:19 PM updated: May 2, 2023 1:24 PM
Dr. Billy Joe Barfield
October 8, 1938 - February 5, 2022
Dr. Billy Joe Barfield, 83, was welcomed home to heaven by his wife, Annette, on February 5th, 2022. He resided at Sodalis Assisted Living in San Antonio, TX.
Billy was born and reared in the same white house with his 9 brothers and sisters on a small farm in Logansport, Louisiana. He often told stories of catching chickens, milking cows, fishing, and playing pranks with his siblings. As a boy, he was a thinker and would get in trouble for sitting on the front porch and “daydreaming.” He was known to tell quite the joke and one would laugh so hard their “ribs would hurt.” At the age of 15, Billy went to live with his oldest brother, Merrel and his wife, Ola Mae, who raised him as their own. While serving in the Air Force as a meteorologist in Germany, Billy would be reconnected with his long-time family friends, Silas and Kay Grider, whose family was on sabbatical in Switzerland. He was reintroduced to their daughter, Annette, whom he had first met at the age of 5. As they were several years apart, he used to tease her saying he had seen her in diapers. After coming back to the states, Billy fell in love with Annette through their many letters. In 1965, Billy and Annette were married in Wharton, TX and remained married for 53 years. Through the good times and the bad, no matter their mood, they would always stop to “dance in the kitchen.”
Billy and Annette moved to Lexington, KY where Billy worked at the University of KY as a professor in Agricultural Engineering. It was there that they enjoyed an active, full life of raising their two children Michelle and Will in the community and church. In 1992, Billy accepted a position as department head at OSU and he and Annette moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma. Where, they likewise became involved in the local church and community and became huge OSU fans proudly sporting their orange cowboy attire at games and events. In 2015, Billy and Annette moved to San Antonio, TX to be closer to their daughter, her husband and three grandsons.
Billy served as a commissioned officer in the Air Force in Germany, the US Air Force Reserve and then in both the Texas and Kentucky Air National Guard. He achieved the rank of Major before retiring in 1983. Billy graduated from Texas A & M with a PHD in Agricultural Engineering.
He served as a professor in the Agricultural Engineering Department and was Director of the Water Resource Institute at The University of Kentucky. He went on to become department head and regents professor at Oklahoma State University in the Biosystems Agricultural Engineering department, where he was instrumental in implementing the name change from Agricultural Engineering to Biosystems Agricultural Engineering. This change helped pave the way for the Ag-Engineering department for years to come. Upon “retirement”, Dr. Barfield worked as a consultant on wide-ranging projects throughout the United States and around the world.
Some of his professional accomplishments include the ASAE Young Researcher Award, the Hancor Soil and Water Engineering Award and The John Deere Gold Medal Award. Dr. Barfield was internationally recognized as a research scientist and teacher and some of his books and publications are still referenced and used today by engineers. One of the many projects that Dr. Barfield was proud of was The New Product Development Center; an outreach or extension effort to tie together the resources of OSU to assist small manufacturers and businesses in Oklahoma. This project as well as others that he co-founded, are still having a positive impact on the economic development of Oklahoma today.
Faith and church membership were a big part of Billy’s life. He sang in the church choir, taught Sunday school and served as deacon. He and Annette were active members developing lifelong friends at Central Baptist Church in Lexington, KY, University Heights Baptist Church in Stillwater, OK and Woodland Baptist Church in San Antonio, TX.
Billy said that at the end of one’s life it’s not the awards and accolades that matter, but the people and the relationships. Authentic relationships and having a positive impact on others was very important to him. It was said of Billy that he established the definition of a good friend. He genuinely sought the well-being of all those he encountered. He challenged others to ask the hard questions - that God was OK with that, to think outside the box and to not settle for mediocrity. He respected all people and taught his children to do the same. His legacy and love will live on not only through his family and friends, but by all those that were privileged to have known him.
Billy is survived by his son, William Barfield and fiancé’ Mandy Hubler; daughter, Michelle Torres and husband, Rene’; three grandsons, Silas, Joshua and Isaiah; along with his siblings, Kelly Barfield, Yvonne Bell, David Barfield and Jerry Vessey.
The Visitation will take place at Porter Loring Mortuary North in San Antonio, TX from 6-8 pm Thursday, March 17th 2022.