His birthname was Barrett Raymond Rochman, but over his 77 years of life he had many other names: Cash, Mr. Sandwich, Fred, Santa Claus, Coach, and OG. We called him Dad. Our kids called him Grandpa.
We are all incredibly sad to announce Barrett “quit this pop stand” of life on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, passing away at his family home in Makanda, Illinois. He was born on March 1, 1943, to Edward and Irene (Siglowski) Rochman, and was raised with one sister in Chicago, Illinois. Barrett married Marilyn (“Pinny”) Louise Bade on May 25, 1963, in Murphysboro, Illinois.
In 1962, Barrett “ran away with the gypsies”—we jest—he left Chicago to complete his sociology degree at SIU-C, and became a permanent fixture of Carbondale, Illinois. There, Barrett started a lifetime of trying on and making fit every entrepreneurial and philanthropic hat he could get his hands on at a very young age in Chicago. He was born with a business mind, unrelenting drive, vigorous curiosity for the future, and he enjoyed learning about and making others happy—or crazy.
Barrett’s first entrepreneurial hat is our modern-day grocery delivery—Barrett would wheel his wagon up to the local grocery store and drag groceries home for other families solely relying on tips to help support his family. If you knew Barrett, you know this walk home came with plenty of discussion and entertainment from his side even at the very young age of nine. Barrett continued this endeavor from the age of nine while living in a Chicago housing project.
His second hat is our modern-day food/gift delivery for special occasions. “Cash” would deliver a fresh cake to university students from their parents on birthdays while they were away at college. He always had a smile on his face when talking about how appreciative the parents were knowing he would make their children’s day special for them from afar while simultaneously he could make ends meet as a starving college student. It was a “win-win!” as he would say.
After graduating college, Barrett started and would continue for his lifetime to wear his hats of husband and father. Barrett’s attraction to and admiration of Pinny—or as he often called her, Pin—was obvious until the end. He never missed sneaking in a hug or simple touch of affection with her.
To support his growing family and feed his entrepreneurial spirit, Barrett later opened Mr. Sandwich truck to sell sandwiches, Hostess, snacks, drinks, candy, etc. to college students of SIU-C. The sandwich truck had a place on campus for 39 years. Still to this day SIU-C alumni and people of Carbondale reminisce over their experiences at Mr. Sandwich truck and whether those golf clubs came with any “perks.” We can only imagine how many stories of encounters with Barrett at the sandwich truck must be out there. Barrett was our modern-day food truck over 50 years before food trucks became a thing.
By this time Barrett had nine children (and sandwich truck workers), Karrie, Kenny, Jamie, Corie, Jeremy (“Boo”), Timmy, Chris, Jesse, and Tommy. University students and business at Mr. Sandwich truck inspired him to open Fred’s Dance Barn and take on the hat of “dance club owner.” Luckily Barrett’s army of children helped him staff the barn and peddle bumper stickers, cups, t-shirts—even underwear! Fred’s, like Mr. Sandwich, still to this day elicits a host of colorful stories when the name pops up or a “Fred’s” shirt is spotted. Barrett was our modern-day country dance bar.
He eventually moved on from Fred’s and began a real estate investment business. This investor hat would in time give rise to the many, many more hats Barrett wore the rest of his life. Just to name a few: Barrett wore Santa’s hat for 15 years to bring joy to the students at Giant City School (and helped support the school for 44 years); he wore a coach hat for Karrie and Corie’s softball days and went on to coach a softball team some would liken to the Bad News Bears, but that he developed into a national championship team; he wore the landlord hat for many years; he built Blue Sky Vineyard in 2005, taking on the hat of host, and joyfully sat with and entertained many, many customers every weekend.
With every new entrepreneurial hat he acquired, Barrett’s favorite hat, his philanthropic hat, grew bigger. More important than the money was that his financial success allowed him to meaningfully affect the lives of people in difficult times and circumstances with challenging financial situations like the one he was born into. He had a heart of gold.
Barrett was proud of his community and a proud citizen of Carbondale. He made generous donations throughout his lifetime to Giant City School, SIU-C arts and athletics (basketball and softball were his favorites), Raintree Terrace, Southern Illinois Community Foundation, Carbondale Boys and Girls Club, Carbondale Downtown Revitalization, Elise Rochman Benefit for Tay Sachs Disease, and most recently the mountain biking trails at Touch of Nature. He built Boo Castle Park – Jeremy Rochman Memorial Park in honor of his late son, Jeremy “Boo” Rochman, which to this day has had over 2 million visitors, and again, countless memories and stories. We know Grandpa had countless memories of watching his grandchildren play in it time and time again. He was passionate about capturing Boo’s vision for the park, and Barrett’s appreciation of the arts pervades throughout. Barrett’s appreciation of the arts routinely had him taking his children to Shryock Auditorium, and eventually his children and grandchildren to the Fox Theater, hoping to grow in them his fondness for the arts. He succeeded.
Barrett’s final hat, and the one he spent enjoying the most his last weeks with us, was his grandfather hat. Barrett was very proud of all of his children and the life experiences they all have, but his grandchildren, their life paths, hobbies, interests, conversations, personalities, and very beings lit him up when they were in his presence—and even more so around the holidays. He enjoyed finding small gifts, trinkets, or unique ideas that would capture their attention and make them happy. He put thought into everything he did for them whether it was as simple as surprising them with donuts or giving them a special coin for their birthdays. He loved them all, and constantly talked about how “neat” his grandkids turned out to be. As a grandfather, Barrett was “neat,” and we hope all his grandkids will keep a little piece of him—or wear one of his hats—throughout their lifetimes.
Barrett is survived by his wife, Marilyn (“Pinny”) Rochman; eight children: Kenneth (Sheri) Rochman, Karrie (Jim) Ewers, James (Tricia) Rochman, Corinne Rochman, Timothy (Kerri) Rochman, Christopher (Sheila) Rochman, Jesse (Erin) Rochman, and Thomas; thirteen grandchildren: Travis, Taylor (James), Jeremy, Vincent (Krystalle), Michael, Eden, Samuel, Joseph, Cecily, Fianna, Jocelyn, Eli, Ivy; one great grandchild, Sedona; his sister Belle (Marv) Prothero; and his niece, Christine Ammon.
Barrett is predeceased by his son, Jeremy “Boo” Rochman; granddaughter, Elise Rochman; and parents, Edward and Irene Rochman.
He once said, “Life takes time.” We say, “You built a timeless legacy.”
The service that was scheduled for Tuesday, January 12, has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date.
Memorials may be made to Boo Castle Park, 31 Homewood Drive, Carbondale.
Meredith Funeral Home in Carbondale assisted the family with arrangements. To leave a story or memory of Barrett visit www.meredithfh.com.