Long-time West Plains businessman Clarence “Porky” Barber received an honorary Associate of Applied Science degree Saturday, May 18, during Missouri State University-West Plains’ commencement ceremony at the West Plains Civic Center arena.
This is the ninth year an honorary degree has been bestowed by the university. It is designed to recognize extraordinary individuals who have given a substantial part of their lives to serving others and/or who have distinguished themselves, university officials said.
It also is designed to establish a public association between Missouri State-West Plains and such exceptional men and women, thereby providing testimony to the values and quality of two-year institutions, officials added.
“Clarence ‘Porky’ Barber epitomizes Missouri State University’s public affairs mission through his career as a hard-working businessman and as a generous supporter of various causes in our community,” Missouri State-West Plains Chancellor Shirley Lawler said.
“As a business leader and owner of Ozark Machinery, he’s been a long-time ambassador for West Plains, touting its benefits to others within his circle of influence. As a supporter of our university and other non-profit organizations, he shows his passionate dedication to those institutions that create a better life for us all.
“His long-time support of Missouri State University-West Plains through the Grizzly Booster Club and donations toward other needs on our campus have revealed him to be a true friend of the university and its educational mission,” the chancellor added. “It is with great admiration and pleasure that we award Clarence Barber this honorary degree.”
A lifetime of dedicated service to the community
Barber graduated from Lebanon High School in 1962. Following high school, he married his wife, Roberta, and attended Missouri State University (then known as Southwest Missouri State College) from fall of 1962 to spring of 1964 when he began his career working for EA Martin Caterpillar in Springfield.
There, Barber worked his way from the mail room to a territory salesman. In 1971, he was transferred from the main branch in Springfield to West Plains as a territory sales manager.
In 1976, he became a partner in Ozark Machinery, a local business selling sawmill and logging equipment and supplies. He later assumed full ownership in 1992 and worked there until he retired at the end of 2015.
Barber has been a true friend and supporter of Missouri State-West Plains and its mission to empower students to achieve personal success and to enrich their local and global communities. He has been a long-time Grizzly Booster Club member and a regular attendee at Grizzly Athletics events.
Family and service to God and others are the hallmarks of Barber’s life. He and Roberta have two sons, Jeff and Curtis, and the entire family is active with First Baptist Church in West Plains, where Clarence serves as a deacon.
In addition, Barber has served on the Howell Valley School Board, including a term as president; two terms on the Board of Trustees at Southwest Baptist University; the West Vue Nursing Home Board of Directors; and a variety of church committees.
By awarding Barber an honorary degree, university officials said they are recognizing his many achievements, his life-long commitment to bettering his community and his service as a role model for students.