Culminating 44 years with the Federal Reserve, Pat Barron retired in early 2011 as first vice president and chief operating officer of the Atlanta Fed. Pat began his working life as an auto mechanic in his hometown of Atlanta. Known for integrity and a tenacious work ethic, he joined the Atlanta Fed in 1967 in the computer operations area and worked his way steadily upward.
Pat Barron Tribute
It's a long way from the service department at Buckhead Chrysler Plymouth to the executive suite at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
But Pat Barron made the trip in grand style. Barron, who retired in early 2011 as first vice president and chief operating officer of the Atlanta Fed, began his working life as an auto mechanic in his hometown of Atlanta. The first in his family to graduate from college, Barron was never a stranger to hard work. Growing up, he helped his mother pluck chickens, ran a paper route, and mowed lawns.
His modest childhood, he said, "always pushed me to want to do better."
So he did. Barron launched his Atlanta Fed career in 1967 in the bank's computer operations area, when computers were curiosities the size of small cars. It was a time when people paid for things with pieces of paper—cash and checks. That has changed, and Barron has been instrumental in effecting that change and many others.
That is no surprise. Long-time Atlanta Fed colleague Rich Oliver calls Barron "the hardest working person I know." That work ethic fueled a steady rise at the Federal Reserve: from data processing, to the check collections section, to a vital role in establishing the Atlanta Fed's Miami Branch, to branch manager. After five years as first vice president and chief operating officer of the San Francisco Fed, Barron for the past 15 years held the same position at the Atlanta Fed, while serving as retail payments product director for the entire Federal Reserve System.
It was in the latter role that Barron perhaps made his most lasting contribution to the Federal Reserve and the nation. As an advocate for modernizing the nation's payments systems, Barron led the critical but delicate task of overhauling the Federal Reserve's nationwide check processing operations in response to the migration toward electronic payment methods. "In this effort, he made tough but appropriate decisions for the Federal Reserve and the nation's economic welfare while treating employees with empathy and respect," reads a resolution in Barron's honor signed by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and the Atlanta Fed board of directors.
Barron likewise was at the forefront in restoring check processing and other retail payments across the country after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Four years later, he led an Atlanta Fed team that overcame major obstacles to keep cash, checks, and electronic payments flowing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Just as important, he ensured that the 179 members of the New Orleans Branch staff were safe and secure.
"No matter the challenge," Barron's resolution states, "he will long be remembered for his steady calm in the eye of any storm."