Happy 80th Birthday Barry!
By Kathy Newman
May 27, 2022
Today, May 27th, Barry Luft celebrates his eightieth birthday! This is an occasion that allows me to reflect on the 60 years that I have known this incredible educator.
Last Fall, I enrolled in the Beginner Ukulele Class through the Confederation Park 55+ Programs and was very excited to learn that Barry would be my instructor...again!
I first met Mr. Luft, when he was coaching the boys’ gymnastics club at A.E. Cross Junior High. I know now that he was just seven years older than his students as he was a brand-new teacher. Barry’s gymnasts entertained the entire student population with their immaculately timed, alternating vaulting set to music. I thought Mr. Luft was a gymnast...and he was but he is also an incredible musician.
One of Barry’s first teaching positions was at Viscount Bennett Junior/Senior High School, so I got to meet him again! I joined his Hootenanny Club which met every Friday morning before classes. Barry encouraged all of us to sing and to learn how to play an instrument. My Father supplied me with a Bow Bottom Mandolin that he had saved from being used as a table tennis bat at one of the drilling rigs which he supervised. It needed repair so Dad filled in the cracks and restrung it for my enjoyment. Thanks to Barry and my Dad, I spent many a happy hour in my room figuring out how to pick out a tune. B flat was a problem as the closest fret had sunk into the neck of the instrument. Everything else sounded okay.
Years went by without seeing Barry and his wife, Marnie, but his name would appear in Folk and Celtic Club announcements, so I got to hear him play his banjo at several events. I really enjoyed hearing him perform both solo and with his Men’s Chorus at the Water Valley Celtic Festival before Covid. When my Mom celebrated her ninetieth birthday, Barry was our entertainer.
Barry exemplifies lifelong learning as he travelled to workshops all over Canada and the USA practicing his many instruments and sharing his knowledge with others.
So Happy Birthday to a special guy! I hope that he continues to both teach and perform for many more years!