Dr. John B. Barnes is remembered by many as a man of vision.
Current Arizona Western College President Dr. Glenn E. Mayle credits the first college governing board for hiring Barnes, a man who launched AWC into existence to serve the higher education needs of Yuma County – all while making sure to water the plants on campus on the weekends. He was AWC's inaugural president.
Mayle recalled that Barnes was hired as the president in 1962 at age 38 after an election that approved Yuma County Junior College District in 1961. To make the college a reality, the district governing board of Dr. John R. Wilhelmy, Donald N. Soldwedel, Donald Butler, Samuel Haydis and Milton W. Lewis hired Barnes, who was the director of the Bureau of Educational Research and School Services at Arizona State University at the time.
“Arizona Western College opened its doors in August 1963, the state's first new public institution of higher learning since 1920,” Mayle said. “Dr. Barnes and his 27 faculty members had the gargantuan task of providing instruction for almost a thousand people as they created all the precedents, the guidelines and all the policies and procedures to advance the college.”
Mayle shared that a photo of Barnes is still proudly displayed in the main hallway the 3C Building of AWC's main campus to honor the college's first president.
While at AWC, Barnes was a summer visiting lecturer at the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State.
In 1967, Barnes became the president of Boise College as it was in transition to Boise State and Boise State University. After his resignation 10 years later, he then became the Professor of Higher Education at Northern Arizona University.
Barnes died on June 5, 2013. He is survived by his daughters, Brandee Lynn Meissner and Rebecca Kay Wallace; grandchildren, Robin Brown, and Scott Meissner Jr.; his sister, Mollie Belle Cooke of Iowa, Louisiana.
Barnes was born Feb. 14, 1924, in Texarkana, Texas and received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Denver and his doctorate degree from the University of Wyoming in 1995. He married Shirley B. Payne of Colorado and they were inseparable for 62 years before she died in 2010.
Visit www.cloverdalefuneralhome.com to share memories with his family on his memorial page and to read the full obituary.
Sarah Womer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.