BOX ELDER COUNTY – By Ellen Cook – April 27, 2021
“Wonderful teacher and friend.” “One of the good guys.” “A great influence.” “Always so kind and friendly.” “An amazing man.”
These positive phrases were all used on Facebook to describe one man – a man who was a teacher, a coach, a colleague, a friend, a husband, a father and a brother. This man was Hunter Barrus.
Barrus passed away April 17, 2021 following a stroke. He was 76.
Barrus was a true Bear River Valley native, and never strayed far from his beginnings. He grew up in Deweyville and Tremonton, then returned following his marriage to put down roots in his hometown 0f Deweyville, spending more than 40 years in the community he loved.
His passing brought a flood of memories to those with whom he associated during his lifetime. His brother, Tim Barrus, remembers him being “the one who got things stirred up in the family.” That family consisted of four brothers and two sisters.
During his teen years, the energy not used on the family farm went into sports. He loved fishing, camping and just being outdoors. He excelled in football at Bear River High School and later at Utah State University.
“He loved sports,” Tim Barrus said. “That is why he got into coaching.”
His brother said getting the call to teach and coach at his alma mater was all he would wish for.
“He had a lot of ties here. He had friends in the community. When he came back here it was like a dream come true," he added.
Being a teacher, acting as coach in several sports, then later serving as the school’s athletic director also allowed him the opportunity to work closely with teens at the high school level.
“Working with young adults was one of his most cherished experiences,” said Tim. “He got to influence kids’ lives. And he was good at it. He could take someone who was in a tough spot, turn them around and influence them for good. He really had a good repartee with them. He was such a good example.”
His obituary stated, “he loved the lifelong connections that he made with his students and cherished being a part of their growth and development.”
The impact he had in the classroom and especially on the court or on the field was demonstrated just last week, according to Tim. “At his viewing there was a big spray of flower that simply said from ‘Bear River Football.’
One of Barrus’ students and athletes was Trent Toone, who attended Bear River from 1992 through 1996. Toone said Barrus was the Junior Varsity basketball coach during his sophomore and junior years, as well as the assistant football coach.
“He was also my driver’s ed instructor, so in my opinion a very brave man,” Toone wrote. Toone also had him for US geography.
“He was an amazing man, one of those coaches you always wanted to give your best effort for because you knew he cared about you beyond the game,” Toone continued. “I always appreciated his high fives and words of encouragement.”
Brother Tim echoed that praise. “He always made you feel welcome, always wanted to be involved in what you were doing. He made you feel good all the time when you were around him.”