by Jim Nintzel
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' office announces that District Director Ron Barber will be returning to work on a part-time basis next week:
U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ district director, Ron Barber, will return to work next week, almost six months after he suffered serious injuries in the Jan. 8 shooting.
Barber, who supervises 11 employees in Giffords’ offices in Tucson and Sierra Vista, will work halftime while continuing to undergo rehabilitation to help him fully recover from his wounds.
Barber will return to Giffords’ district office, 3945 E. Fort Lowell Road, Suite 211, at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 5.
Barber, 65, was shot twice, once in the left cheek and once in the left thigh. He was hospitalized in the intensive care unit of University Medical Center, where Giffords also was treated. Barber was discharged after six days in the hospital.
The bullet that struck Barber in the cheek exited from the back of his neck, barely missing his spinal column. The shot that struck him in the thigh caused far more serious medical problems and has hampered his ability to walk. Barber has only limited feeling in the lower part of his left leg and continues to undergo physical therapy.
Doctors have said that Barber likely would have died if bystander Anna Ballis had not stepped forward and applied pressure to his thigh wound. In an interview soon after the shooting, Barber said of Ballis, “I just remember her coming to my aid after I was down. … Had she not been there, I would have probably bled to death right there on the ground.”
Six people died in the shooting including Barber’s colleague, Gabe Zimmerman, Giffords’ community outreach director. Both Barber and Zimmerman had been working for Giffords since she first took office in January 2007.
Another Giffords’ staff member, Pam Simon, also was wounded on Jan. 8. She was shot twice, once in the chest and once in the wrist. Simon returned to work in late February.
Today, Barber is traveling to Yuma to speak at the groundbreaking of the John M. Roll United States Courthouse. The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. Thursday at 98 W. First St. in Yuma.
Roll, the chief federal judge for Arizona, was among those killed on Jan. 8 when he went to thank Giffords for helping ease the workload of Arizona’s overburdened federal judges by supporting Roll’s request for declaration of a Judicial Emergency.
Barber and Roll, 63, first met in 1965 as students at the University of Arizona in Tucson. They lost touch after they graduated but became friends again four years ago when Barber became Giffords' district director. They were in regular contact and were talking with each other when the gunman opened fire at Giffords’ “Congress On Your Corner” event.
“He was a great judge, caring human being and a solid family man,” Barber said of Roll. “There was nothing phony about John. He was the real deal.”
Before going to work for Giffords, Barber held management positions in community-based organizations and in state and local government. He was director of Headstart in Southern Arizona and regional administrator and state director for the Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities. In late 2006, he was appointed by newly elected Giffords to chair her transition team and became her district director in January 2007.
Ron and his wife, Nancy, a Tucson native, have two daughters, Jennifer and Crissi, and four grandchildren.