Jim Barber was born in Mufreesboro, Tennessee on July 21, 1912 and attended Manteca High School in Manteca, California. He played college football at the University of San Francisco and played in the East-West Shrine game in 1935.

He played tackle for the Boston Redskins from 1935 and 1936 and moved with the team to Washington, finishing his pro career in 1941. He was All-Pro in 1939 and made the Pro Bowl in 1940.

Jim joined the Navy in the  World War II era and was stationed at the Farragut Naval Training Station. Upon discharge, he became an assistant coach for the New York "Football" Yankees (AAFC) for five years and then the Chicago Hornets.

In 1949, Jim became an executive at Bill Hatch Sporting Goods in Spokane, Washington and in 1969, he entered the investment securities business and worked at G.C. George Securities, Inc., Pennaluna & Co., and L.L. Nicholls Co., which he bought and operated until his retirement in 1977.

Jim was one of the moving forces behind the establishment of the Ray Flaherty Scholarship by the Inland Northwest Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame. He was a member of the NFL Alumni Association and halls of fame at the University of San Francisco.

Jim Barber passed away from heart complications on January 30, 1988, at age 85, in Spokane, Washington.