Wendy Barroso laughs whenever someone says she has been living in a fraternity house.
That’s the way it is when you’re married with four boys, and you’re the only one who answers to ma’am at the supper table.
But the Barroso home has always been more of a Scout hut than a frat house. Wendy has been surrounded by merit badges, neckerchiefs, camping gear and plenty of trustworthiness.
Her husband, Joe, has been involved with Boy Scouts for the past 45 years. He started as a 9-year-old Cub Scout and didn’t stop until he got to the top, earning the rank of Eagle Scout. He stayed involved as an assistant scoutmaster after he went to college, and he has been active in Scouting ever since.
Like father, like son ... and son ... and son ... and son.
The four Barroso boys have worn the tan shirts and olive green pants of the Boy Scout uniform. Although Adam, 26, Chris, 24, and Daniel, 22, all achieved the rank of Eagle, the one earned by their youngest brother Andy, a senior at Mount de Sales, has been the most special.
Not only did it give them five Eagles under one roof -- an amazing accomplishment in itself -- it was an emotional ceremony last month.
There was a time when Wendy’s family wasn’t sure she would live to see it.
“I was dying,” she said. “And the one thing that kept going through my mind when I was so sick was that Andy was not going to have a mama to pin him when he got his Eagle.”
Wendy had been working as a pre-K teacher at St. Joseph’s Catholic School when she was diagnosed with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis three years ago. The dangerous buildup of fat in the liver can lead to cirrhosis and occurs in people who drink little or no alcohol.
She spent months in and out of the hospital and suffered from encephalopathy. After a liver transplant in 2013, she was tested at Emory in Atlanta every month.
Only 3 percent of all Boy Scouts attain the highest rank of Eagle Scout, so it’s a lofty achievement. I imagine the odds of a family with all four sons following their father as Eagles would be rare in this day and age.
You have to roll back the calendar to give credit to the man responsible for getting this Barroso legacy started. Scoutmaster Milton Rose took young Joe under his wing, got him interested and kept him interested.
Joe’s parents, Jose and Mireya Barroso, had come to America from Cuba in 1956 so Jose could attend technical college in Americus and receive his certification to work on color televisions. He got a job in Cordele before he applied with Joe Pinkerton, of Pinkerton Electronics on Napier Avenue, in 1960.
“He was hired on a Monday, and I was born in the Macon Hospital that Saturday,” Joe said.
In 1964, the family moved to Edna Place. Rose, who worked for the forestry department, was one of their neighbors. He encouraged Joe to join the Cub Scout troop at nearby Riley Elementary and then Boy Scout Troop 275 at Cherokee Heights Baptist. Joe continued to be involved in college after Rose named him assistant scoutmaster. That troop later became part of Troop 28 at Bloomfield United Methodist Church.
“The whole time we were dating, he would go camping with the Scouts almost every weekend, so I knew what it was going to be like before we got married,” Wendy said.
When the Barroso boys started coming along in 1988 -- the first three in stair-step fashion -- Joe didn’t have to build a fire the Boy Scout way to light the torch and pass it down.
His mother, Mireya, an excellent seamstress, took one of Joe’s old Scout shirts and made a small uniform for Adam when he was 18 months old. It was passed down to Chris, Daniel and Andy when they were toddlers.
She also sewed on every badge her grandsons earned through Troop 10 at St. Joseph Catholic Church.
As with most young men, it often was a challenge to keep the Barroso boys motivated to stay the course to the end. They all attended St. Joseph’s School and then Mount de Sales. They played sports and were involved in other school activities.
They also got their driver’s licenses and discovered chasing girls was more fun than tying square knots.
“The fumes,” Joe said, laughing. “Perfume and car fumes.”
Eagle Scouts are required to complete their projects, have their board review and submit their paperwork before their 18th birthday. Daniel cut it close. He crossed the finish line just two days before he turned 18.
Joe said he plans to continue being involved with Scouting in some capacity. He and Wendy believe their boys will, too, once they settle into college, careers and families.
Maybe one day there will be another generation of Barroso boys to keep the tradition going.
The world can never have enough Eagles.
Contact Gris at 744-4275 or email@example.com