January 3, 2003
I was surprised, reading your obituary of Lloyd Barbee, that while much was said of his accomplishments and career, little was said of the man himself.
I had the pleasure to work with Lloyd several years ago, and there are some things about him which I will always remember:
While charming, he was also pompous. He started with the assumption that he was the smartest person in the room, adjusting this assessment only when proven otherwise (not often).
He always felt he was right, and even when not, would argue with the same force. Lloyd loved to argue, it seemed his favorite sport. He would even take the wrong position if it made for good argument.
While Lloyd was pretty sure that he knew everything, what he didn't know bugged the hell out of him. When confronted by a lack of knowledge he would go off, learn some, and come back, full force, as though he'd known it all along.
Lloyd was tremendously proud of himself, not vain, but proud. He knew that he had done great things, and did not shrink from that. He was proud of his legacy - a legacy he believed in even after many began to doubt the results. When I asked him, in the mid 1990s, what he thought of Howard Fuller's efforts to create a blacks-only school district, he said, in a kind tone, "He's young, he still has time to come to his senses."
I will miss Lloyd, and his indomitable spirit. That word, indomitable, is perhaps the best to sum up this great man.