April 21, 2019  

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Rear Admiral Ken Barbor, Director of The Hydrographic Science Research Center, Dies at 67

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Rear Admiral Ken Barbor

Rear Admiral Ken Barbor, U.S. Navy (ret), founding director of the Hydrographic Science Research Center at The University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) Department of Marine Science, died Sunday evening in Bay St. Louis.

Barbor, 67, was instrumental in partnering the U.S. Navy with Southern Miss to initiate the M.S. in Hydrographic Science as a Category-A recognized program by the International Federation of Surveyors, the International Hydrographic Organization, and the International Cartographic Association. He left USM in 2002 to serve five years as director of the International Hydrographic Bureau in Monaco, after which he rejoined USM’s Department of Marine Science.

“I was always struck by just how affable, humble, and approachable Ken was,” said Dr. Scott Milroy, associate professor. “Despite his long and storied military career, and more recently his scientific career at USM, the gravity of his accomplishments was never in competition with his warmth and kindness of spirit.”

Barbor was originally from Paducah, Ky. He is survived by his wife Leslie, his son Matthew (wife Hattie), his daughters Margaret (husband Johnny) & Melissa (husband Jeremy), six grandchildren with a seventh on the way, his brother Dave and sister Bobbie.  

A 28-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, Barbor’s assignments included Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command at John C. Stennis Space Center, directing the Navy’s worldwide operational hydrography, oceanography and meteorology activities; commanding officer of a hydrographic survey unit and two meteorology and oceanography forecast units; various headquarter staff assignments both afloat and ashore, and shipboard assignments. He also previously served as the national president for The Hydrographic Society of America. Barbor was also heavily involved with the Bay-Waveland chapter of Habitat for Humanity where he served as president of their board of directors.

“Admiral Barbor was an integral member of the USM research family,” said Gordon Cannon, USM vice president of research. “In the years I worked with him, he could always be counted on for solid advice on a wide range of subjects. He was also a good friend and a gentleman in the very best sense of the word. He will be greatly missed.”

USM plans to establish a scholarship in Barbor’s name to further hydrographic science education.

“Ken will be greatly missed,” said SOSE Director Monty Graham. “Sailors aren’t supposed to leave footprints, but Ken left some mighty large footprints all over this earth.”

A service will be held at the Biloxi National Cemetery (1001, 400 Veterans Ave, Biloxi, MS 39531) August 2nd at 12:30pm. Later in the day, a celebration of life will take place at the Bay-Waveland Yacht Club (1 Yacht Club Dr, Bay St Louis, MS 39520) from 4 p.m. to 7 pm.