MISSOULA — Robert L. (Bob) Barnes, 96, of Missoula, passed away on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, at Edgewood Vista, of natural causes.
Bob was born on Jan. 5, 1923, in St. Joseph, Missouri, to Irene and John Barnes. He attended school in Kirkwood, Missouri, graduating from Kirkwood High School in 1941. Following graduation he served five years in the United States Marine Corps during World War II and the Korean War. He became a Master Sargent before his honorable discharge in 1952.
He worked as a bank teller in Dubuque, Iowa, before enrolling in the University of Dubuque under the GI Bill. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1957, Bob moved to California to live near his older brother, Louis Barnes. Working as a research chemist at Richfield Oil Company in Anaheim, California, he received several patents on a supersonic jet fuel.
In September 1967, Bob enrolled in seminary at Iliff School of Theology in Denver to become a United Methodist Minister fulfilling the “call” he had felt from an early age. In June 1970 he graduated from Iliff with an MDiv degree and moved his family to Montana to serve as pastor to several churches in the Yellowstone Conference of the United Methodist Church. Bob was appointed to Geraldine Community Church, Great Falls West Side United Methodist Church, Hamilton Federated Church and District Superintendent of Western Mountains District, living in Missoula. He retired in 1988 and continued serving part-time in churches and retirement homes when he was needed.
He married the love of his life, Eleanor C. (Ellie) Bircher, in the Yorba Linda, California Methodist Church in July 1958. They recently celebrated 60 years together in 2018. They raised two sons, Craig and Brian. Bob enjoyed all kinds of music, playing golf and collecting stamps. He loved God, pastoring rural churches and his family. They spent many summers at family camp at Flathead United Methodist Camp.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, six siblings, several nieces and nephews, many colleagues in the Yellowstone Conference, and his son Craig. Survivors include his wife, Ellie, Missoula; son Brian (Lita) and granddaughters, Kaylyn and Kasey of Helena.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to Missoula First United Methodist Church Renovation Fund or Flathead UM Camp. A memorial service will be held at Missoula First United Methodist Church on Saturday, March 23, 2019, at 11 a.m. with a reception following.