When I recently met with Sherry Barr in a secluded corner of a local coffee shop, the first thing both of us commented on was how strange it was that we couldn’t shake one another’s hand. We briefly spoke about how surreal life feels at this bizarre time. Knowing that she had a trip planned the morning after our interview, I asked her if she was afraid to fly, being in the midst of a global pandemic. Before answering my question, Sherry took a sip of her hot chocolate and I could tell she was weighing her words carefully.
“You know,” she said quietly, “when your husband unexpectedly passes away, the idea of dying doesn’t seem quite so scary.”
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Of course, Sherry is referring to her late husband of 24 years and former Sangamon County sheriff, Wes Barr, whose sudden death from a heart attack last October left many people shocked and heartbroken. As I listened to Sherry recall the day that Wes died, I couldn’t help but be impressed by her strong faith. Often times, when something tragic happens, we become jaded, but Sherry has done the exact opposite.
Before Wes died, he was well-known for his charitable work in Sangamon county. It was important for Sherry to continue his legacy, but she wasn’t exactly sure how to go about doing that. She found herself praying for an answer and talking to friends about what she could do. The more people she spoke with, the more people offered her their services. Before she knew it, Sherry had a team of highly skilled friends who had come together to help her create The Heart of Wes Barr, a new foundation that will use donations raised through local fundraisers to help aid area charities that were near and dear to Wes’s heart.