By: Jim Rosenberg
Bob Barnes, printing operations manager at The Seattle Times, died last Wednesday. He was 59.
Robert Gene Barnes spent 25 years at the Times, where he started as a pressman after moving from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer when that Hearst paper and the family-owned Times entered a joint operating agreement in 1983. He joined the P-I in 1975, five years after starting his career at what was then known as the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph.
Barnes, who died at home, had been battling cancer for the past two years. “He kept working until a couple of weeks before his death,” remarked Operations Vice President Frank Paiva, who joined the Times a year after Barnes did.
A dedicated and respected figure in newspaper production, Barnes was responsible for the pressroom, platemaking and paper warehouse.
Remembering Barnes as a “very competent” manager, a “great human being,” and a “great guy to go fishing with,” Paiva recalled that “all through the [last] two years he still managed to keep his sense of humor.”
Barnes’ “strong technical skill and extremely high standards” as assistant pressroom manager impressed Times Operations Director Kathy Hunter when she joined the paper in 1997. Those equalities made him the obvious choice for pressroom manager and, later, operations manager, she said, crediting Barnes with helping to achieve high print quality and “many other contributions” to production of the two dailies.
“At first, I was most impressed with his knowledge and prodigious memory; it took me a while to get beyond his gruff demeanor to find the mischievous, fun-loving person underneath,” Hunter wrote in a follow-up e-mail. “His sense of humor even held up as he fought the cancer. After receiving radiation treatment, much of his hair fell out, leaving only a Mohawk-type pattern. Rather than shaving it off, he kept the Mohawk, turning heads wherever he went. He will be greatly missed.
Barnes was an active member of the Metro Users Group. In a message informing members of Barnes’ death, Patty Leonard, production coordinator at the Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minn., called Barnes a “key contributor to our many successes over the years.” Echoing Hunter and Paiva, she cited Barnes’ “incredible ability to recall information” and the “fun and laughter shared” with her former colleague.
“We are all better off because we had him in our lives,” Leonard wrote.
Barnes is survived by his wife, Shirley, three sons and three grandchildren. A private celebration in his memory will be held at a later date. Memorial donations may be made to The American Cancer Society.