In Memory of
Clarence Edward Barnes
When looking back on the life of Clarence E. Barnes, his friends and family would agree that he had a full and fascinating life. Most knew him to be an intelligent and empathetic man who helped his friends and family when needed. Clarence was a mentor and teacher and enjoyed helping and listening to those who were "down on their luck". His children remember him more than once approaching a stranger who was hungry and telling them, "I'll buy you lunch, if you tell me your story." Clarence demonstrated his compassion for others throughout his life. After his retirement, he found great joy when he volunteered to teach GED classes to students who had dropped out of high school. Clarence's understanding of others may have come from his own humble beginnings.
Clarence was born on April 15, 1921 in Prairie Grove, Arkansas, the second born child of eleven to William "Riley" Barnes and Rosie Bell (Holt) Barnes. Clarence grew up with his older brother, Jim Drurry Barnes born 1918 and his younger sister, Esther May (Boone) born 1923. The day before his fourth birthday his little brother Calvin was born. Clarence was deeply saddened when Calvin died a short 10 months later. This sadness was increased when he was seven years old, and he lost yet another brother, Paul, only 10 months after his birth also. Two years later in 1930 when Clarence was nine, his little sister, Helen Louise (Davis) was born, followed by four more brothers and one sister; Robert Riley (1932), William Charles (1934), Lena Bernice (1937), Fred Lawrence (1939), and Elmer Theodore (1941). The Barnes family experienced humble beginnings despite their hard working nature.
Clarence recalled an early Christmas when he was five. His father, Riley, would receive a dollar from his grandpa to divide among the three children at that time which included his older brother, Jim, and younger sister, Esther. They used the money to buy apples and oranges. He felt those were good Christmases, and recalls that later Christmases were "bare and skinny". Clarence told of when he was eleven in 1932 that there was very little to eat. He would go out in the woods to hunt hickory nuts or go fishing, gigging or to hunt a rabbit which were scarce. During these years in the early 1930s, many families were experiencing difficult times and found themselves struggling to survive.
Clarence was fascinated with hobos at an early age. He often would tell stories of a hobo that used to come by his house for food. Rosie, his mom, would tell the 'bo' to go out back and cut wood while she fixed him something to eat. Clarence said this hobo would come by at about the same time each year, and he would use the opportunity to ask him many questions. Clarence was very inquisitive and learned many "tidbits" of useful information that he used later when he himself went out looking for work. Clarence was quick to tell people that there was a difference between a hobo and a bum. A hobo would work for food, but a bum begged.
In April of 1936, Clarence turned 15 years old. On May 14, 1936, just a few weeks before his eighth grade graduation, he joined the Civil Conservation Corps (CCC). He didn't have any graduation clothes and didn't want to graduate in "old-patchy" overalls. He was amazed four months later when he received a letter from home informing him that his teacher had issued his diploma despite his leaving for the CCCs.
Clarence continued almost two full terms (11 months) with the CCCs, thus beginning is lifetime of traveling. He signed up in Haiti, Missouri then was sent to Van Buren where he worked as a rock chipper for four and a half months. He signed up quickly for the jobs out west and went to work on road construction for one month at Board Corrals, Nevada. In November of 1936, Clarence was sent to Burns, Oregon to build fence for a deer and antelope refuge. He said they built 110 miles of fence including digging post holes through solid rock and cutting Juniper posts. Each young man was required to cut three Juniper posts a day, each post weighing about 75 pounds, and drag them up Steens Mountain from the lower canyon. Clarence recalled proudly getting his three posts up the mountain by one o' clock while many others needed the whole day.
Clarence was discharged from the CCCs on March 22, 1937 and returned home to help chop cotton with his father and older brother, Jim. He then remembers leaving home just three and a half months later on July 5th. He kept in his memory his first night sleeping under a tree near Cairo, Illinois. He chose his bed in the grassy part where the highway divided with cars going by on both sides of him. He put his suitcase under his head, feeling it was the safest place for him to be for that night. The next day he hitched a ride to Cobden, Illinois to pick peaches. He found a job working for John Hinkley for nine days, earning $1.50 a day, twice as much as he had received for chopping cotton. After all of the peaches had been picked he went to Elwood, Indiana to work at Frasier Ketchup Factory for 25 cents an hour. He returned there for the next four summers. His travels for work also included going up north to Michigan and down south to Louisiana to pick berries.
Clarence spent the next five years of his life "riding the rails" in search of work. He reminisced about the first time he caught a train on his way to Elwood, Indiana. He followed two other more experience 'bos' to the railyard and caught the Pennsylvania Nickleplate. He received fast training as he caught one of the oil tankers and climbed up to the cat walk above. He recalls hanging on tightly, then falling asleep. When he awoke his hands were still wrapped firmly around the rails of the catwalk as they began their approach into Elwood. Throughout his life he fascinated family and friends with his many stories from this time in his life.
On July, 30 1942, Clarence was inducted into the United States Army at Kalamazoo, Michigan. He served his country with honor during World War II as a munitions worker and participated in campaigns in France, Belgium, and Germany. He was awarded The American Defense Service Medal, The European African Middle Eastern Service Medal with Bronze Arrowhead, and a Good Conduct Medal.
Clarence was very proud of the time he spent during World War II serving our country. On the night of June 5th, 1944, he sailed across the English Channel toward France as part of the D-Day invasion. Both the first and second waves of soldiers landing on the beach were killed, and then he was notified that he would be moving in with the third wave. He knew if none of the first and second wave had not survived, his chances of remaining alive were "between zero and nothing". Just a few minutes later, above the humming of the diesel engines, he heard the orders to return to the main ship. Many of the men felt sad and relieved as they returned safely to the deck of Liberty Boat 532. Clarence received an honorable discharge on October 16, 1945 at Fort Dix, New Jersey.
Shortly after his discharge from the army in October of 1945, he married Marie Marshall of Boston, Massachusetts who gave birth to their son, Robert on July 14, 1946. Clarence moved back to Clarkton, Missouri with his new wife and son, "Bobby". There he opened a garage using the training he received as a mechanic while in the army. Across from the garage was Clarkton High School, and his desire to learn was reignited. He met with Mr. Writing, the School Superintendent, who allowed him to take high school classes. After one year, Clarence received his GED. Clarence, his wife, and son returned to Massachusetts where he attended Boston University during the summers and Clark University during the fall and spring. Within three years, he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology. Sadly, a few years later, Clarence and Marie divorced. He then moved down the East Coast and settled for a short time in Florida where he found work as a cab driver and veterinarian's assistant.
Clarence returned to his roots in Clarkton, Missouri and found his first job as a school teacher. He taught there for only a year due to administrative pressure to not teach what was in the science textbook on the subject of evolution. He left teaching for a short time and moved to St. Louis. He drove for Yellow Cab Company and worked as a night guard for a small arms munitions company. There while on guard duty was where Clarence first experienced a series of UFO sightings that resulted in a life long fascination for unexplained phenomena.
While living in St. Louis he met and married his second wife, Frances Ramona Henry in 1954. Later that year, he moved to Cuba, Missouri accepting a teaching position at Oak Grove Elementary School which later led to a position at Sunny Side School also in Cuba. During the summers of 1955 and 1956, he worked on his Teaching Certificate and attended Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. When the summer of 1957 arrived, he decided to take a break from college classes, and he along with his wife took a job picking fruit from Illinois up to Michigan. Upon returning they moved to Fredericktown, Missouri where he took another elementary teaching position for one year. In August of 1957 he and his wife began the process of adopting a beautiful girl name Jackie who was just eight years old at the time. Jackie was born on July 9, 1949. A few years later when the adoption was finalized her legal name was changed to Carlena Sue Barnes, as is recorded on her birth certificate.
During one of his summers picking fruit in Michigan, Clarence applied for his first administrative education position. He and his family moved there when he received a job as teaching principal at Climber Elementary. He taught grades 1 – 6 for three years from 1957 – 1960. He returned again to Missouri and drove cab while working as a social worker for the Department of Health in St. Louis. In 1962 he began a position as an Educational Therapist teaching adults and teens at St. Louis State Hospital. During this time he had two more children, Quentin Laurent Barnes born September 2, 1963 and Vickie Kathryn Ann Barnes born April 15, 1966.
Shortly after the birth of his fourth child, in an effort to better support his family, he moved to Illinois where teaching salaries were higher. He took a job as a teaching principal at Evansville Attendance Center in the Sparta School District. Two years later he transferred to the Ellis Grove Attendance Center where he was the principal and taught fifth grade for sixteen years until his retirement in 1983. During his time at Sparta School District he made many lifetime friends including Mildred Dial, Gary Mahoney, and Violet Cox who referred to Clarence as head of their "school family".
In 1981, Clarence divorced his second wife Frances, but decided to remain in the Chester, Illinois area for a few more years before moving to Louisiana and Missouri for a short time. He returned to Illinois and met Wanda Beard in Unity Church of Belleville during May of 1989. They continued attending church together and began dating the following fall. They remained companions for over twenty years until his death on January 8, 2010. Clarence and Wanda enjoyed attending lectures at SIU in Edwardsville and UFO Study Groups. They spent time traveling together and cherished their time visiting with family and friends.
Clarence valued his family and was a very proud grandfather and great grandfather. Clarence is survived by five grandchildren, Jennifer (Scott) Randle, Scott (Joanna) Holt, Aaron Fricke, Taylor Turner, and Tessa Barnes; and four great-grandchildren, Daniel Randle, Riley Holt, Logan Holt, and Marissa Holt.
Throughout his life, Clarence pursued a variety of interests which included fishing, Studebakers, nutritional health and fitness, recreational activities with his children and grandchildren and participating in many theological and political discussions. He became a member of the Theosophical Society of America in 1959. He also was a student at the School of Metaphysics during the 1970s and 80s. At the time of his death, Clarence was the president of The UFO Study Group of Greater St. Louis, a position he proudly held since 2001. He was an imaginative and original thinker who loved learning and would choose attending a lecture over attending a movie. Clarence was a true humanitarian, and his children and grandchildren knew him as a tender-hearted man whose legacy of love and learning will be cherished and missed.