Cocoa Beach, Florida
Gary Barnes was born in Oak Park, Illinois on March 18, 1944. He passed away at his home in Cocoa Beach, Florida on September 2, 2021. He grew up primarily in Kankakee, Illinois and attended the University of Illinois in Champaign where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy, and later a Masters of Business Administration. At Illinois he spent four years as a student manager of the football team, and often reminisced about his time there during the school’s best season in recent memory when it won the 1963 Rose Bowl.
Gary worked at General Motors his entire career, where he met Valerie Skwarczynski. Valerie and Gary were married on August 7, 1976 and soon after had three children, Jamie, Justin, and Michael. They relocated to Springboro, Ohio in 1981. As his children grew up in Springboro, Gary was an avid watcher of all of their soccer, baseball, and softball games and their swim meets. He spent many of his evenings and weekends taking them to and from try-outs, practices, games, and tournaments, and his vacations taking the family on trips to Cocoa Beach, Florida and throughout the Western U.S., where they enjoyed visiting numerous national parks. In 1994 the family moved to France for two years, and then returned to Pinckney, Michigan, where Gary spent the later stages of his career travelling around the world to countries including Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, China, the Philippines, Thailand, the Czech Republic, and Russia, often accompanied by his wife Valerie, who herself was an avid traveler.
Gary’s wife Valerie passed away in 2007 and he missed her greatly. In his later years he spent his time living seasonally in Pinckney, Michigan and Cocoa Beach Florida, where he enjoyed reading history and classic literature, eating a well-grilled fish, watching all of the Detroit sports teams, and the Illinois, Michigan, and Oklahoma college football teams. While the games themselves were often disappointing, Gary still had fun watching them and he always looked forward to each new season. Throughout his life he was happiest attending events with his growing and grown-up children, the big events like graduations and weddings, as well as the smaller ones like Dad’s day college football games, and holiday get-togethers. He was very excited about the birth of his first grandchild, expected in October, whom he unfortunately never got to meet.
Gary is survived by his children Jamie Visel of Whitmore Lake, Michigan, Justin Barnes of Big Stone Gap, Virginia, and Michael Barnes of Champaign, Illinois, and by his younger brother Tom Barnes of North Aurora, Illinois.
Gary’s Community Farewell will be held on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, at 1:00 PM (10AM-1PM gathering) at Borek Jennings Funeral Home, Hamburg Chapel, Michigan. Please leave a message of comfort for Gary’s family at 1-877-231-7900, or sign his guestbook at www.borekjennings.com.
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