February 2021 E Newsletter

the power of PLACE

The Heart of Gothic

billy barr, subject of the adjoining article, is the beating heart of the RMBL community.  He embodies a lot of what makes Gothic unique.

Empathetic and engaged, he creates a sense of acceptance and inclusiveness.  When I first arrived as a student 30+ years ago and went to his office to pay my bill, billy greeted me, cracked a joke, offered me chocolate, and instantly made me feel at home.   As he comes up on half a century at RMBL, by my reckoning he has done the same with thousands of scientists, students, and community members.

Ian Billick - Director RMBL

Ian Billick | PhD
Executive Director, RMBL


billy barr

A quiet hero

Hundreds of scientists flood the hills of Gothic every summer to do research in one of the most-studied ecological sites in the world. But come winter, only one man is still standing. He’s made this abandoned silver mining town his home. He’s also made a name for himself without even trying. He’s billy barr.

First things first. Why is his name not capitalized? “Oh, it’s a stupid reason,” he says. “When I got here, I had two roommates. One of them signed his name with all small letters. I tried doing it, and it felt comfortable. A “b” is a big letter when you capitalize it; it’s not that big when it’s small. I just felt more comfortable with it.” Besides, he added, “It fit my personality better. I live a quiet little life, and it just fit me.”