John Patrick "Pat" Barnes
COLUMBIA — As a long-time city councilman, founder of the Boone County Fire Protection District and vice president of operations at a multimillion dollar real estate firm, John Patrick Barnes left an impact on many areas of Columbia.
Mr. Barnes of Columbia died Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. He was 69.
Mr. Barnes was born July 2, 1941 to Donnie and Rose Heisler Barnes.
Known as Pat to his friends and family, Mr. Barnes was a vocal and engaged member of the community. He rose from humble beginnings and is remembered by friends as a man possessing a tireless work ethic and unquenchable energy, which he channeled to become one of Columbia's most notable citizens during the '70s and '80s.
Mr. Barnes' father was a maintenance worker at Stephens College, so he grew up as a child of little means in a house on St. Joseph Street.
"As a teenager, he was working three to four part-time jobs while going to school to help support his parents," said Steve Paulsell, long-time friend and former fire chief of the Boone County Fire Protection District.
After graduating from Hickman High School, Mr. Barnes chose to forgo college, and instead, charted a course that would lead him to become a major stakeholder in Columbia's business and civic communities.
After a handicapped woman died in a house fire outside of city limits in 1963, Mr. Barnes recognized the need to provide fire protection in the rural areas of Boone County. He formed the Central Missouri Radio Squad, which became the Boone County Fire Protection District in 1970, according to the Fire District's website.
Scott Olsen, the district's fire chief, describes Mr. Barnes as an "aggressive firefighter and volunteers' volunteer" and recalls working with Mr. Barnes to extinguish a large house fire and "him pushing me to 'Go get the fire! Go get the fire!'"
Mr. Barnes was the first assistant chief of the Fire District, and it was his desire to improve the state of the city's fire department that first led him to seek public office, Olsen said.
"I can recall so many instances when Pat would reach into his own pockets and give money to victims of fires or accidents to help them get back on his feet," Paulsell said.
During his 14-years of service on the City Council, Mr. Barnes was at the forefront of the city's economic development. He was known as a conservative voice on the council at the time and was an active proponent of reining in city spending.
When campaigning for election in 1981, Barnes told the Missourian that the city needed to do more to bring in outside industry.
He contemplated running for mayor in 1989 but chose to step down from his position on the council because his job often required him to travel. He was vice president of Executive Affiliates Inc., a family-owned real estate company based in Big Rock, Ill., that has real estate holdings throughout the nation.
In a May 1989 letter to the Columbia Tribune upon leaving office, Mr. Barnes wrote that his time on the council was the "best learning experience of my life" and described the city as "unique, progressive and moving forward."
"He took everything in his life very seriously, and that showed in everything he did," Olsen said. "... He was a tireless worker. Whenever you saw him there was a smile and a hearty handshake and a 'how-you doing.'"
In the 22 years that have passed since Mr. Barnes left office, he has largely been absent from the public eye and has continued working as vice president of Executive Affiliates.
"Generally if a person is geared toward construction and engineering, he is not geared toward day-to-day operations. Pat was able to do both. ... In terms of a friend and in terms of an employee. he was irreplaceable," said Evan Rayman, Barnes' Executive Affiliates supervisor for more than 20 years.
While Barnes' job often took him across the country, he was a man who was deeply committed to his family and a loyal patriot, Paulsell said.
"Pat didn't have a lot of free time," Paulsell said. "He was on the road a lot throughout the United States, but he enjoyed being home on the weekends and spending time with his three kids and his wife."
Mr. Barnes also found the time to send care packages to troops overseas in his later years and continued to serve in an advisory role to the Fire District, he said.
"He and Lisa were very involved with their animals," Rayman said. "They had basically a zoo — an exotic zoo — at their house."
This menagerie included a zebra and two camels living on land attached to their home on Rock Quarry Road, Paulsell said.
Mr. Barnes is survived by his wife, Lisa, of Columbia; two daughters, Marielle Holman Barnes of Bangalore, India, and Angela L. Bennett and husband, Brent, of Columbia; one son, John Patrick Barnes II of Denver; one brother, Richard King of Columbia; and three grandchildren, Zachary O'Sullivan, Mitchell Bennett and Lily Bennett.
Visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 903 Bernadette Drive.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. Burial will be in Memorial Park Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to Central Missouri Honor Flight, Suite 334, 1400 Forum Blvd., Columbia, MO 65203.
Condolences can be posted at parkerfuneralservice.com.