John Barbero, the public address announcer whose melodious voice and uncanny sense of timing made him an integral part of Pittsburgh Penguins hockey for four decades, passed away Monday evening. He was 65.
Barbero had gallantly battled a brain tumor since February, 2009, and spent his final days resting comfortably in a Washington County hospice surrounded by his family, according to his son, Brady.
Barbero called his first Penguins game in 1972-73 and worked 36 seasons for the team. He was part of three Stanley Cup championship seasons and had the distinction of announcing every home goal of Mario Lemieux's Hall of Fame career.
"On behalf of the entire Penguins organization, I want to express our deepest sympathy to John's family," said Lemieux, now the team's owner. "John was one of a kind, a true professional, and he always will be remembered as a member of the Penguins family. He will be missed."
Barbero was an educator by trade and was the longtime principal at Waynesburg High School. He only missed a handful of games during his Penguins’ career, mostly because of school trips; he was committed to the Penguins and committed to his students.
He easily made friends with media members, visiting team officials and local and national broadcasters, and probably never realized his enormous impact on Penguins hockey and the game itself.
"John had the very best traits of a man in his position," said Mike Emrick, the national voice of the NHL on NBC and Versus. "He had a clear, authoritative voice, he was accurate, and most importantly he was a pleasant, kind soul I looked forward to seeing.
"The job meant a lot to John, and his personality and professionalism meant a lot to those of us who depended on him."
Barbero's final game was Game 6 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final at Mellon Arena, a pivotal Penguins' victory over Detroit en route to their third Cup. He will be honored as a member of the Penguins All-Time Team in a new display at CONSOL Energy Center.
He is survived by two sons, Brady and Brett, and a daughter, Melissa Christian. He had three grandchildren - Quinn John Barbero and Stella and Roxi Christian.
Viewing will be Wednesday from 6-8 and Thursday from 2-4 and 6-8 at the Melenyzer-Dubarr Funeral Home in Roscoe, Pa.
Funeral services will be Friday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Joseph’s church in Roscoe.