NORMAN — For 50 years, Robert Guyton (Bob) Barry made the radio calls for touchdowns scored by Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
In front of a standing-room-only crowd at Barry's funeral Thursday afternoon, longtime friend Lee Allan Smith made a touchdown call of his own.
“We heard him say it hundred and hundred of times – ‘Touchdown, Cowboys' or ‘Touchdown, Oklahoma,'” Smith said. “So I'd just like to ask you all a favor and let's honor Bob Barry this way: I'd like to count down to 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and you repeat after me in a loud boisterous voice like he did – ‘Touchdown, Bob Barry.'”
On command, an overflow gathering at St. John's Episcopal Church cheered one last time for the legendary sportscaster.
Barry died of an apparent heart attack Saturday in his Norman home. He was 80.
Hand-picked by Hall of Fame football coach Bud Wilkinson, Barry called OU football and basketball games from 1961-72. From 1973-90, he called Oklahoma State games and after a brief stint with Tulsa men's basketball, Barry returned for an encore run as the voice of Sooners football and basketball from 1991 through last March.
“We've lost a father, a granddaddy, a friend. We've lost a legend,” Smith said at the outset of his eulogy. “We've lost a giant, an All-American, a champion, a hall-of-famer. We've lost big Bob Barry.”
The main congregation at St. John's Episcopal Church seats about 350, but several hundred additional worshippers watched on video feeds located throughout the church where Barry attended the 7:30 a.m. service every Sunday and was a devoted lay reader.
Three generations of family, friends, fans and familiar faces attended the funeral.
Past and present were well-represented.
The OU section included football coaches Barry Switzer and Bob Stoops, men's basketball coaches Billy Tubbs, Kelvin Sampson and Lon Kruger, plus athletic directors Donnie Duncan and Joe Castiglione.
Steve Owens, the 1969 Heisman Trophy winner, was there, as were former OSU football coach Pat Jones and former three-sport Cowboys star Dick Soergel.
School presidents David Boren of Oklahoma and Burns Hargis of Oklahoma State also were on hand.
Barry had the rare distinction of being the play-by-play voice of four Heisman winners from two different schools in Owens, OSU's Barry Sanders (1988), Jason White (2003) and Sam Bradford (2008). He wasn't that far removed from calling two more winners in Billy Vessels (1952) and Billy Sims (1978).
This year's OU men's basketball team was supposed to practice Thursday, but instead practiced Wednesday so players who met Barry before he retired last March could attend the service.
Dozens in television, radio and print media paid their respects, not only former co-workers at KFOR-TV, but also personnel from rival stations.
Amazingly, Barry announced Sooners football while Switzer was an assistant, but never coach. WKY lost the broadcast rights to OU football when Switzer took charge of the program in 1973.
“Bob and I didn't have a professional experience, but we had a social experience here in Norman,” Switzer said after the service. “I got to know Bob extremely well. In fact, I was with him just a couple weeks ago. Truly, he was a legend in sports announcing and admired by everyone and he's a good person. More importantly, that's what I think of Bob. He was a good man, a good guy.”
Smith played baseball with Barry at Classen High School and later became the man who hired Barry at WKY-TV (now KFOR-TV).
Though known for his half century of calling football and basketball games, Barry's favorite sport might have been baseball.
Smith said Barry had memorable golf outings with hall of fame athletes Johnny Unitas, Bob Feller, Brooks Robinson, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, plus celebrities such as Barbara Eden and Dinah Shore.
Smith also shared two of Barry's cornier jokes from 30 years ago, which appropriately drew half-laughter and half-groans.
“There's not a good adjective that you could name that wouldn't probably apply to Bob Barry,” Smith said.
Barry was inducted into three different halls of fame and was 15-time sportscaster of the year in Oklahoma.
He is survived by his brother, Jack; son Frank; son Bob and his wife, Gina; and eight grandchildren. Joan Barry, his wife of 51 years, died in 2003.
John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. Follow him on Twitter @RohdeOK.