GREENVILLE — The Greenville community is remembering a man who was not only a true friend, but someone who cared deeply for the educational system.
Carl Barberi, 63, of Greenville, died Tuesday at his home after a battle with cancer.
“He was a true friend,” said Richard “Dick” Laurent, a longtime friend of Barberi. “There will never be another like him.”
Laurent hired Barberi as the assistant principal of Greenville Middle School 35 years ago where he held the position for seven years. From there, Barberi became Cedar Crest Elementary School principal and then assistant superintendent, and retired before moving to the superintendent position.
“There are many great teachers, but he was the best of the best,” Laurent said.
Over the years, Laurent and Baberi became the best of friends and shared many memories. Laurent said although he can’t pull a favorite memory of the two because there are so many they shared, he will always remember their times at the country club and as golf partners.
“He was a top-notch person,” Laurent said.
Barberi, who was originally from Mount Pleasant, joined the Navy after high school and served during the Vietnam War. When he returned, he attended Central Michigan University where he met his wife, Alison.
After graduating from college, Barberi started his career in education, working in Mount Pleasant and then Greenville. He went on to earn his master’s degree and specialist degree in education.
“Carl was far more than a past colleague,” said Greenville Public Schools Superintendent Pete Haines. “Carl and Alison are icons in this community, and particularly in our school family.”
Haines explained Barberi was his mentor who helped him to fulfill the position as superintendent.
“Many, many here at GPS are realizing great loss, but honoring Carl and Alison by choosing instead at this time to reflect on the inspirational life he lived,” Haines said. “Carl was a passionate educator, father and neighbor.”
Years after Baberi had retired, Haines said the school was in need to fill an interim principal position, which Barberi stepped in for a year without hesitation.
“His fingerprints are etched on so many of the accomplishments in which our community prides itself,” Haines said.
After retiring, Baberi worked at his brother-in-law’s firm in Mount Pleasant for almost seven years before learning he had cancer.
Greenville Area Community Foundation Chairman Dr. Peter Blinkilde said Baberi was an asset to the community and will be missed.
“On behalf of the Greenville Area Community Foundation’s board and staff, I would express our sadness on Carl’s passing and our condolences to Alison and the family,” Blinkilde said. “Carl was an asset to our community and especially to the children of this community. His caring and warmth will be missed by everyone that knew him.”
Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Charles Catholic Church in Greenville, with viewing one hour prior at the church.