Rich Barbera of River Vale, N.J., was named the ninth member of the Green Bay Packers FAN Hall of Fame Friday. Packers President/COO John Jones made the announcement.
Barbera was nominated by his daughters, Shannon and Fallon Barbera, and was selected by fans from 10 finalists during a voting period that closed Dec. 8. Approximately 17,000 votes were cast.
In their letter nominating their father, the daughters said, "Rich will always be a loyal fan through thick and thin. At the age of 10, Rich made a bet with his uncle using his allowance that the Packers would beat the hometown New York Giants. The Packers did indeed beat the Giants, 37-0, resulting in Rich becoming a fan for life."
The daughters also said, "Who says you have to be from Wisconsin to be the biggest Packer fan? Certainly not our father, who has been a die-hard Packer fan for over 45 years. He is responsible for our Packer family and converting over 20 family and friends into Packer Backers. Rich, who was born and raised in New Jersey, might as well be from Wisconsin. He and our mom make at least six trips to Green Bay each year to enjoy Friday Fish Fry, butter burgers, Kringle, brats, tailgating and most importantly to cheer on the Packers. He travels 1,006 miles to Wisconsin and has accrued over 100,000 frequent flyer miles throughout the years. This Packer Stockholder is already planning his retirement in Green Bay to be close to the Packers."
Barbera also has been featured in the Green Bay Press-Gazette and Inside 1265, the official magazine of Packers Partners Club of Champions. In 2004, he asked Packers President/COO John Jones to write a letter welcoming his new daughter-in-law into his family on behalf of the Packers; he presented the letter, with tears in his eyes, to the new couple on their wedding day.
This year's other finalists included Baron Anderson, Oswego, Ill.; Mike Arndt, Bolingbrook, Ill.; Greg Chartrand, Ontario, Canada; Rose Mary Gabriel, Birchwood, Wis.; John Gorman, Fort Myers, Fla.; Al Greason, Crivitz, Wis.; Gary Love, Hicksville, N.Y.; Dave Rickert, Appleton, Wis., and Jean Wilson, Menasha, Wis.
Barbera will receive four club seats to a Packers home game, at which he will be recognized on the Lambeau Field TundraVision video boards, a $500 Packers Pro Shop gift certificate and a road trip for two to a 2007 Packers away game, including game ticket, air fare and hotel accommodation. He also will be introduced during the Packers Hall of Fame Induction Banquet next July and have his name permanently displayed in a place of honor in the Packers Hall of Fame.
The Green Bay Packers, the first professional football team to have its own hall of fame, enhanced that distinction in 1998 by establishing a Packers FAN Hall of Fame for the purpose of annually honoring a devout and longtime Packers fan.
The eight prior inductees include Mel Knoke, Appleton, Wis.; Louis Gardipee, Black River Falls, Wis.; Ed Jablonski, Wausau, Wis.; Paul Mazzoleni, Green Bay; Wanda Boggs, Brookfield, Wis.; Sister Isaac Jogues Rousseau, Milwaukee; Dorothy Hanke, Milwaukee, and Kathy Lazzaro, Milwaukee.
FAN Hall of Fame sponsors are ShopKo, Stein Gardens and Gifts, Best Buy and Time Warner Cable.