Dave and Velma Barber with ice cream sundae

2016 Grand Marshal
Dave and Velma Barber

David Barber was born on June 7, 1938 in Fowler, California to John and Elizabeth Barber.  He is the eldest of two sons.  David’s grandparents, William and Lucy Gandy came from England in about 1910 and settled on Valentine Avenue south of Conejo Avenue.  David’s grandparents came to Caruthers after William had run a trading post on the Congo River in Africa for about 8 years starting in 1900.  While there he contracted malaria and upon returning to England, the doctor told him he had to move to a hot and dry climate.  His brother Alfred Gandy already had a place on Valentine Avenue, so William bought a place across the street.  During WWII the family moved to Vallejo where John worked as a machinist at Mare Island Naval Ship Yard.  They returned to their farm on Willow Avenue near Fowler.  They tried farming but it rained two years in a row, with pretty much a total crop loss.  In 1945 John established Caruthers Pump and Repair and the family moved back to Caruthers in 1948.

David graduated from Caruthers Elementary School in 1952 and from Caruthers High School in 1956.  From there he went to Fresno State and graduated from there with a BA in Music.  He later got an MA in School Administration from Fresno Pacific College.  David says he worked for his dad enough to know he didn’t want to work in the pump business for the rest of his life, so he became a school teacher and taught for a little over 40 years.  18 of those years he worked as an administrator, six of which were as Superintendent/Principal of Raisin City Elementary School.

Velma W. Copeland was born on December 25, 1939, in Muldrow, Oklahoma to Arlie and Ethel Copeland.  Arlie was a farm laborer and a farm manager.  Ethel was a homemaker.  The Copeland family moved to the Caruthers area in 1955.  She is the second of five children. Velma graduated from Caruthers High School in 1957.  She worked for an insurance company after high school and various other jobs until retirement age.

David and Velma met at Caruthers High School.  They were married on August 17, 1958.  They lived in Fresno for one year and then moved to Caruthers where they raised their two children, Gary and Karen.  Velma was active in the Caruthers PTA, room mother and Den Mother for the Cub Scouts.  In the late 1970s, Velma was elected to the high school board of trustees, being the first woman to be elected to that board.  David and Velma purchased the Caruthers Dry Goods in 1974.  Velma managed the store until 1980 when they sold the business..

David, Velma and their family have always enjoyed the Fair, participating in many different functions including various food booths and selling tickets.  Velma was treasurer of the Caruthers District Fair Board for a number of years.  David has helped coordinate the parade band competition for many years.

Both David and Velma were active in the Caruthers District YMCA and the Caruthers Grange.  When their kids were in high school, both David and Velma were active parent advisors for the Caruthers High School FBLA.  They drove FBLA students to the national competition in places like Miami Beach, Florida; Denver, Colorado; and San Francisco, California.  They also flew with them to New Orleans, Louisiana.  David ran the clock at basketball games and the down marker at football games for Caruthers High School for many years.  David and Velma are strong supporters of all Caruthers sports and David attends as many games as he can.

David and Velma moved to Easton in 1989 and after 15 years, realizing there is no place like home, they moved back to Caruthers.

Currently they are both active in FOCAL (Friends of the Caruthers Area Library) where Velma is president and David is treasurer.  David is serving as President of the Caruthers Chamber of Commerce at this time.  In addition David volunteers at the Amtrak station in Fresno where he is a “Station Host”.  He is Vice President of the Station Hosts Assn. of California.  He is also a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Fresno County Community Development Block Grants. Both David and Velma are on the oversight committee for the new construction bonds at the high school.   In 2000-2001, David served on the Fresno County Grand Jury.

 David and Velma are both active at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, including outreaches like FCA breakfasts and the Caruthers Community Café.  They have seven grandchildren that keep them very active, happy and busy

David and Velma consider it a high honor and extremely humbling to be named Grand Marshals for the 2016 Caruthers District Fair. 

They truly believe “THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME.”