Cover photo for Earl Barnes's Obituary
1926 Earl 2020

Earl Barnes

October 3, 1926 — February 19, 2020

Earl Gladwyn Barnes (93) passed away at Barrett Memorial Hospital February 19, 2020 surrounded by his family. Earl was born October 3, 1926 in Huntington Beach, California, to Lowry Thomas and Lizzie Barnes. During his early life, the family moved between Yorba Linda, California and Crossville, Tennessee working the oil fields of California and helping family clear the land, working at the sawmill, and doing all the farming chores in Tennessee. After the family moved back to Yorba Linda, Earl’s two siblings continued in school, but Dad being the oldest, went to work to help provide for the family, thus only had an 8th grade education. While in Yorba Linda, he started working for beekeeper Dick McFadden, then enlisted in the Navy on March 10, 1945. Ironically, Earl served his country on the aircraft carrier USS Barnes before being discharged July 10,1946. When his ship was in dry dock in Virginia, Earl, on a 10 day leave, hitchhiked to Tennessee, picked up his sweetheart Willodean Potter along with her dad and took a taxi to Georgia, where they were married in front of the Justice of the Peace. Dad said back in those days a mother or father of the bride would go along to make sure the kids got married. Once married they returned to Tennessee, Mom staying with her parents and Dad hitchhiking back to Virginia to his ship. Dad said he had only walked about a block when two older men picked him up and took him all the way back. He said back then a man in uniform had no trouble getting a ride. Earl’s ship made several trips between the states and the Philippines, spending a lot of time in the South Pacific, not really knowing where they were because of Naval security. During this time, Earl sent Mom a train ticket to California to stay with his parents. Mom and Dad were able to spend one night together in Alameda, California while his ship was in port. After his discharge from the Navy in Boston, Earl again hitchhiked across the country to California to go back to work in the bees. In the fall of 1954, Earl and another beekeeper came to Montana on a hunting trip to the Helena area. Earl met R.M. Gregg in Dillon about buying his bee business. Two years later in April 1956, Earl and Dean loaded up all their belonging and their 4 kids and headed to Montana. They settled on 5 acres on the edge of Dillon, processing their honey crop out of the old Montana Power building. In the 80’s they added more property and a new warehouse. Dad was proud that, along with his two oldest sons, he was able to increase the business from a 1200 colony outfit into running over 5000. Dad was always working, finding it hard to take time off, but Beaverhead Honey Company became one of the most well respected bee operations in the country. He did however, coach Little League and Babe Ruth while the boys were playing. He also helped friends TLee and Dick McCracken, Stu and John Burwell, Dick Warren and Bill Rule in starting and clearing brush on Rainey Mountain Ski Hill (now Maverick). Earl drove the ski bus to the hill and the ski team to numerous meets around the state. Dad also served as a substitute bus driver for BCHS. Earl enjoyed his bowling nights with Mom and playing cards with friends. Dad loved to camp, fish, and hunt with family and good friends, and he taught all of us kids to love the outdoors and all that Montana has to offer. Earl was preceded in death by his wife of 73 years Willodean, his parents, brother Don Barnes, sister Beverly Mayfield, and son-in-law, Gary Lively. Earl is survived by his sons, Robert Barnes (DaNeil Reynolds), Ray (Ruthie) Barnes, Tom (Cindy) Barnes, all of Dillon and daughter JoAnn (Robert) Weststeyn of Melrose. Grandchildren: Jason (Tara) Barnes, Tyler Barnes, Tamara (Scott) Kuhlman, Stacey (Danny) Meneses, Josh (Olivia) Weststeyn, Jennifer (Chad) DeJong, Jana Barnes (Walker Paul), Brett (Ali) Barnes, and 21 great grandchildren: Brendan, Rylee and William Barnes; Hunter, Logan, Tymber and Ridge Barnes; Kash, Karli and Kassidi Kuhlman; Weston, Tyge and Dani Lu Meneses, Reese and Alexis Weststeyn; Colbie, Cade, Walter DeJong, and baby girl to be born in April ; Simone Grace, Brynnlynn and Davin Barnes. Sister-in law Rhio Barnes and Mabel Potter along with numerous nieces, nephews and cousins also survive Earl. Thanks to the doctors, nurses and staff of Barrett Hospital, The Renaissance, as well as Debbie Snowden, Marie Holt, and Home Health. Donations can be made to a charity of the donor’s choice. Services will be held at Brundage Funeral Home
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