Former colleagues and loved ones of Richard L. Barbour Jr. came together on Oct. 27 to rededicate a tree and plaque in his honor at the Burlington County Courthouse.
Barbour grew up in Moorestown and served as assistant prosecutor for Burlington County before he was promoted to the adult trial team. According to James Ronca, a retired assistant prosecutor for Burlington County and president of the Richard L. Barbour Jr. Scholarship Fund, the prosecutor was 27 when he was shot and killed during a Philadelphia ATM robbery in 1991.
A tree in Barbour’s memory was previously planted outside the courthouse, but according to Pat Garrett, an attorney in Burlington Township and a mentor and co-worker of Barbour’s, it was removed due to a construction project.
“We had originally planted a tree that was on the side, kind of underneath where his office was, but we didn’t mark it,” Garrett recalled. “I was walking up there, and I noticed that there had been a lot of construction going on and the tree got taken down.”
After getting approval from the board of Burlington County Commissioners for a new tree, Garrett and Mary Pat Robbie, director of the department of resource conservation, decided to plant a redbud in Barbour’s honor.
“I think we were looking for year-round color and year-round attraction, and this tree will change colors as the season goes on,” Robbie explained. “It’s also a long-lived tree. They live anywhere from 50 to 75 years, and they love any kind of environment.”
Robbie echoed the sentiments of many others who admired Barbour Jr.
“He was very dedicated to his profession, but he was also fun-loving and just a genuinely nice person, somebody you immediately met and liked,” she noted.
As someone who personally knew Barbour, Garrett felt the love and admiration among the crowd at the rededication.
“It was emblematic of the respect that Rick really had throughout his short career that he had,” she said. “To have all these people gathered here today for the memorial, it’s for Rick. That’s what it’s for.”
At the beginning of the ceremony, Ronca praised Barbour for all he accomplished in his community.
“Rick was a good lawyer, and he also had an (indispensable) trait that assistant prosecutors seem to have, which is to prioritize his cases,” Ronca remembered. “To know when to give an offender, especially juvenile offenders, second chances and to know when punishment was called for.”
Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina was also in attendance and said a few words about Barbour.
“His plaque, we walk by every single day, and it’s not just the plaque, but his picture,” Coffina noted. “He is still alive in this office and it’s pretty remarkable, and really a point of pride to be associated with all of you folks who worked with him and worked so hard to keep his memory alive.”