Nature 36

George W. Barnett, Jr.

July 5, 1934 ~ January 16, 2021 (age 86)


George Washington Barnett, Jr. 86, died of lymphoma Jan. 16, 2021 in Salida. George was born in Minturn on July 5, 1934 to Mae (Wyatt) and George Barnett, Sr. He had one sister, Anna Mae, who preceded him in death. At the time of George’s birth, his father was a miner at Gilman. George grew up around his extended family, which had moved west to Colorado from Appalachia.

George graduated from Rifle Union High School. He served in the U.S. Army. George was a telegrapher for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, working at stations throughout Colorado and Eastern Utah. He attended Mesa Junior College in Grand Junction, eventually graduating from the University of Colorado. Later, he earned a Masters degree from the University of Denver.

After graduation from college, George was employed by Routt County as a social worker in Steamboat Springs. There, he met his future beloved wife of 56 years, Patricia Shannon, then a public health nurse. Pat and George were married on January 16,1965 in Boulder. 

The Barnetts lived and worked in Steamboat Springs for decades, years of great joy. Their children Christine, Jeanne and Maureen were born, raised and graduated from high school there. George and Pat made lifelong friends, were frequently involved in activities with their children, and threw marvelous parties. The Barnetts were among a group of friends who gathered each weekend in the winter to ski the cross-country trails on Rabbit Ears Pass. George was a social worker in the Steamboat Springs School District for most of his career.

The couple moved to Farmington, New Mexico after their girls went to college, where George was the director of ARC, an organization that provided services for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The couple then moved to Buena Vista to be closer to family.

With Pat, George enjoyed travel, exploring the mountains by Jeep, and visiting cultural sites throughout the Southwest. The couple attended the Santa Fe Opera annually with friends. George enjoyed being outdoors hiking, canoeing, walking his dog, cross-country skiing, camping, and mountain biking. He often took his vintage Volvo out for a drive. He was active in local and state politics. He was a railroad buff and volunteered his time on the board of the Buena Vista Heritage Museum, where he operated the model train exhibit for visitors. George also served on the Alliance Against Domestic Abuse board in Chaffee County.

George loved good conversations, was soft-spoken and had a great sense of humor. He was a persistent, constant advocate for disadvantaged people.

George is survived by his wife Pat and daughters Christine McGinnis (Jeff) Buena Vista; Jeanne Power, Hot Sulphur Springs and Maureen Kiefer (Bruce) of Denver. Grandchildren Hayden and Sage McGinnis and Lucy and Kate Kiefer also survive, as well as his extended family and many friends.

A memorial gathering is tentatively planned for this Fall in Steamboat Springs. If desired, memorial contributions in George’s memory may be made to the Buena Vista Heritage Museum in Buena Vista or to the Alliance Against Domestic Abuse, Chaffee County.

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