Remembering Charles Barbee

June 5, 1939 - June 26, 2022

Charles Howard Barbee, one of the earliest members of the Santa Fe Harmonizers, passed away at his home in Santa Fe on June 26, 2022, shortly after his 83rd birthday. Born in Albuquerque to Howard and Ruth (Wampler) Barbee, he was raised in Espanola, NM, along with his older sister, Ann (Barbee) Bordenave.

Charles attended public schools in Espanola and was a member of the Hornets football and basketball teams. In 1955, he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, which he considered his greatest achievement.

Two men singing.
Charles Barbee (front, in red sweater)

After high school he attended New Mexico State University, where he belonged to Sigma Pi fraternity and earned a degree in civil engineering. Charles’ entire career was spent with the New Mexico State Highway Department, where he eventually became District Engineer.  In 1962 he married Mary Ellen Niles of Taos, New Mexico. He was well-respected in the Santa Fe community, a devout Methodist, and an avid golfer in his retirement.

Starting in the  mid-1980s, Charles sang lead and then baritone with the Santa Fe Harmonizers, which was a  men-only chorus until 2019. “Charles Barbee was the backbone of our barbershop chorus during his 38 years of singing and service,” said Will Hobbs, current Harmonizers president. “Besides being a mainstay of our baritone section, he served in various positions on our Board of Directors, including as President for many years. Most recently Charles was our music librarian, organizing and maintaining our extensive music library. He was also one of the nicest people you could meet, willing to help anyone who needed help. We greatly miss his voice, his generosity, and his devotion to our group and to barbershop singing.”

In addition to his wife, Charles is survived by two sons and a daughter, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.