“Gene Mac” Barber, 84

Published 6:52 am Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Eugene Mac Barber
March 5, 1939 – July 1, 2023

“Gene Mac” Barber, 84, passed away in the comfort of his Winchester home in the early morning hours of July 1, 2023.

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From Hillsboro, Kentucky, Gene Mac was the eldest of two sons raised by Henry Eugene and Aetna Walton McRoberts Barber. From their humble beginnings, the Barbers would—through hard work and determination—forge a pathway for building not only one of the largest order-buying livestock businesses in the United States, Eugene Barber and Sons Cattle Company, but later, the Lexington Bluegrass Stockyards as it is known today.

In the 1970s, the Barber family partnered with Kenneth Holt to purchase Blue Grass Stockyards from its original founders. Gene’s family life also expanded around this time, as he married the love of his life, JoAnn Frances. What was once a small family unit of only Gene and his beloved daughter, Sandy Lou, was now a combined household with JoAnn’s three children, Bob, Joannie, and Patrick Buttram.

Over the ensuing years, Blue Grass Stockyards would grow into 7 regional markets located across Central Kentucky, marketing upwards of 500,000 head of cattle annually. With JoAnn’s support, Gene emerged as a leader in the industry, and in 1996 served as President of the National Livestock Marketing Association.

In January of 2016 a devastating fire destroyed the Blue Grass Stockyard complex on Forbes Road in Lexington, KY. Under Gene’s leadership, a team of nine partners constructed the new Blue Grass Stockyards and Regional Marketplace, which opened in Lexington less than two years after the loss of the original stockyard. The new stockyard fulfilled Gene’s long-standing vision of an integrated livestock market and commercial business hub.

Gene was known for his devotion to his family, his love of animals, and his unwavering integrity. Gene’s customers could depend on his word and benefitted from his tireless efforts on their behalf. He was a stalwart ally to his loved ones, to whom he showed great affection and generosity.

Gene was preceded in death by his parents and by his daughter, Sandy. He is survived by his devoted wife, JoAnn, his three stepchildren, Joan, Bob and Patrick (Jamie) Buttram, his two granddaughters, Lauralee (Patrick) Estill and Molly Gene Crain, his two cherished great grandchildren, Francis and Mary Patrick Estill, his brother, Larry (Valerie)Barber, Larry’s children, Laura Sue, Lee Ann, Larry Gene, and Laramie, his cousins, Deanie and Eric, and numerous grand nieces, and grand nephews.

Services will be held on Wednesday, July 5 th at the Blue Grass Stockyards and Regional Marketplace, 4561 Iron Works Pike, Lexington, KY 40511 by Scobee Funeral Home. Visitation will begin at 10:00am with a memorial service following at 1:00pm. Gene will be buried at the Hillsboro Cemetery, Hillsboro, KY, after a family-only graveside service. Pallbearers will be Laramie Barber, Larry Gene Barber, Scott Bucher, Richard “Spike” Elliott, Patrick Estill, Robbie Fenton, Austin Paul, and Guillermo (Memo) Hernandez Viveros, whose tireless devotion allowed Gene to continue to pursue his passions despite the physical limitations he experienced late in life.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Gene’s memory to the Christview Christian Church, 3133 Boonesboro Road Winchester, KY 40391.