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‘The clock stopped at 12:52 p.m.’

Tornado survivors remember a day of terror and loss, their lives forever changed

Danny Barber, 18, and Danny Blyth, 15, lost their lives in the 1967 Orrick tornado. They are pictured here in their yearbook photos.

By Liz Johnson, Staff Writer

Orrick High School’s 1967 yearbook was bittersweet. The opening pages should have been full of joyous celebrations of students graduating and heading off on new adventures.

Instead, the yearbook was dedicated to the two lives lost in the Tuesday, Jan. 24, 1967, tornado that tore apart the school and shattered the lives of students, teachers, administrators and parents.

“We dedicate these pages to Orrick High School. Our school was small with average size classrooms. We also had a great football field and basketball court.

“During our noon break, everyone would meet in the gym to talk about the latest news. We also had assemblies so Mr. Blair could tell us right from wrong.

“Then the clock stopped, and we lost all these things for which we have worked, and two of our students (sic) lives were taken.”

The winter twister

Jan. 24, 1967, dawned as a very warm and humid day, unusual for January in Missouri. Orrick students were in school and, as the hour approached 1 p.m., they had finished lunch and were headed to class.

Junior Danny Gene Barber, 18, was in the hallway talking to Karen Chester, according to Roger Thomas, who was a sophomore at OHS. Barber was standing near the water fountain as the bell rang and Chester headed to her next class.

Minutes later, Barber was dead, crushed and suffocated under the rubble of the school’s roof after a tornado struck the school without warning.

Barber was the son of Everett Barber, of Kansas City, and Lorena Hayes Barber, of Orrick.

The Moberly Monitor-Index reported the tornado in its Jan. 25, 1967 edition, “Orrick – A squat tornado funnel, hidden by its own dust and debris, cut across a corner of this small northwest Missouri town Tuesday, wrecking the high school where about 145 students were in classes.”

Trapped in the gym

A gym class of about 50 girls were in the gymnasium at the time of the tornado.

“There were locker rooms under the bleachers made of sturdy wood,” said Christie Horine Nail, a sophomore in 1967, in a recent interview. “We had just dressed out for PE when all of a sudden glass started breaking and flying and we started running.”

The complete story is in the Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 Richmond News.

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