For many years, Dave Barski made his presence known at St. Linus by warm classrooms on frosty winter mornings and gleaming brass in the church nave. The popular, long-time parish custodian died on Dec. 17 from complications of a stroke. He was 57.
Mr. Barski was born March 16, 1953 and grew up in the St. Bride Parish in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood where he attended the parish elementary school and served as an altar boy.
Remarked a friend who signed Mr. Barski’s guest book, “Dave was a living example of how to live your faith as a Catholic.”
Whenever new principals took over St. Linus School, and the mantle passed to new parish guild presidents, they were advised to make Mr. Barski’s acquaintance.
“When I became president of the St. Linus Athletic Club I called [the past president] and asked him what I needed to know to make the transition easier,” John Zawaski said, a friend and fellow parishioner. “He advised me that Dave was one of two people who ran the parish behind the scenes. He said if I needed something done right, I would need one or both of them. I soon learned what great advice that was.”
Recalling another story, Zawaski described his first meeting with Mr. Barski at a men's smoker function shortly after moving into St. Linus Parish 20 years ago.
“The men were raving about the Harrington’s corned beef,” Zawaski said. “My brother told me to make a couple of corned beef sandwiches and put them in the cooler for Dave. He told me Dave came in at 6 a.m. to make sure everything was spotless. He wouldn't take money, but he loved the Harrington’s.”
His fellow parishioners, staff, students and parents recall Mr. Barski as a man of many talents. The school sparkled during open house, the athletic field well maintained, and on Christmas Eve, the church was a spectacle of beauty and majesty.
“The person behind all this was Dave Barski, but if you told him thank you, he would just say he was doing his job,” Zawaski said.
Mr. Barski was such an integral member of the St. Linus family that Father Bill Corcoron, currently on sabbatical in Rome, interrupted his agenda of serving Christmas mass on the altar with Pope Benedict and flew into Chicago just for one day to perform Mr. Barski’s funeral.
“That alone says what this man meant to our parish,” Zawaski said. “Dave was determined to learn something new every day.”
At his funeral attended by dozens of children from the parish elementary school, Father Corcoron remembered Mr. Barski as a humble servant who was also one of the smartest men in the parish.
“Father Corcoron said in his homily that between school staff, church staff and all the heads of the different clubs at St. Linus that most of these people felt that Dave worked for them,” Zawaski said. “Dave had no problem letting them believe that but the smart people who figured out that Dave was the man in charge, got a lot more done and he also made you look great.”
Mr. Barski leaves his wife, Joy; children Christopher and Michelle; a grandson, Nathan; sister Joanne; brothers Christopher and Phillip; many nieces and nephews, and friends.
Visitation and funeral services for Mr. Barski took place last week at St. Linus. Arrangements were by Blake-Lamb Funeral Home.