Youngwood man often played Santa for family, friends and charities
On Christmas Eve many residents along South Fifth Street in Youngwood would often see Santa Claus taking a leisurely stroll past their homes asking if everyone inside had been good, according to James Emery III.
Emery explained the Santa Claus was actually over-the-road truck driver, James “Butch” P. Barth, 52, of Youngwood, who was 6 feet tall and 340 pounds in person. Barth would entertain family, friends, neighbors, and often raise money for animal charities, by dressing as Santa during the holiday season, said Emery of North Huntingdon, who is Mr. Barth's son-in-law.
“Oh, he loved doing it. And I'm telling you people and animals, all took to him and it was remarkable,” Emery said.
Mr. Barth died Thursday, May 10, 2018, at UPMC Mercy in Pittsburgh. He was born Jan. 9, 1966, in Royal Oak, Mich., son of Bill O. and Jean A. (Vrana) Barth, of Weston, Colo.
“Butch had such a presence about him, and oh what a sense of humor. He loved kids and animals and he loved to help everyone too,” said his wife, Tammy.
“We would go on motorcycle trips and if there was someone broken down along the road, we'd stop and help,” she said.
During Christmas season, the Barths would open their home to let people take photographs of their pets sitting with Santa for a donation to a local animal charity.
Mr. Barth was a member of the New Stanton Assembly of God, a life member of the Model T Ford International Club, and treasurer of the Youngwood Dog Club.
The couple met June 19, 1992, at the former Brass Saddle Restaurant in Smithton, when Mr. Barth stopped in and Tammy was with friends. The couple “hit it off right away” and married July 11, 1998.
Emery said Mr. Barth enjoyed telling stories about going on Model T tours across the country and his childhood in Michigan, where he enjoyed restoring Model Ts with his dad, Bill, and learning how to cook with his mother, Jean.
Emery said Mr. Barth was in the process of restoring a Model T, having it painted and planned to take it on its first trip with his wife in July.
Mr. Barth was a truck driver for 22 years for Smith Transport of Roaring Spring.
He is survived by his wife, Tammy L. (Frelick) Barth; and three children, Ashlea Kolassa and her husband, Mike, of Wichita, Kan.; James J. Emery III and his wife, Stacy, of North Huntingdon, and Amanda G. Sloskey and her husband, Mike, of Latrobe; and four grandchildren.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the C. Richard McCauley Funeral Home Inc., 101 S. Fourth St., Youngwood. Services will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday in the funeral home, with the Rev. Mike Hampton and the Rev. David Lingsch co-officiating. Interment will follow in Central Cemetery, Greensburg.
The family suggests making memorial contributions to the Youngwood Dog Club.