GULF SHORES, Ala. – Lester Earl Barnes Jr., 84, of Gulf Shores, Ala., died Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, at the Alabama State Veterans Home in Bay Minette, Ala., after an extended illness.
He was born June 20, 1929, in Enfield, Ill., to Ester M. and Lester Earl Barnes Sr. in Enfield, Ill.
Les lived in Carbondale from an early age, attending school there. His youth, during The Depression, was filled with family, school, hard work at the lumber yard that his father managed, inventiveness and enthusiasm. He studied and worked to be a journeyman carpenter. He served in the U.S. Army
during the Korean Conflict
, graduating at the top of his class in basic and No. 1 candidate from officer candidate school.
At the end of his service, Les returned to Carbondale and Southern Illinois University, where he completed his undergraduate degree and obtained his master's. He went to the University of Illinois
to pursue doctoral studies. Les became immersed in computers at the time when they were the subject of developmental research, were wall-sized and maintained by replacing tubes. He always joked that he learned computers in "the pits" and about never having taken a computer course because there weren't any. During his doctoral studies, he was recruited by Northern Illinois University to establish the production management curriculum.
Les spent his career at NIU, teaching classes in the College of Business, becoming a certified data processor, consulting with industry on production and computer systems, bringing microcomputers to the college when they were considered a fad, and networking the college. He established and managed computer labs for the college, training many students. He was a member and leader in a variety of professional and personal organizations, including a single-parent organization, where he enjoyed planning educational programs and family activities, and where he met his wife, Jacqueline. Les was a tireless contributor.
He was a life-long learner, whether it was technical, craftsman, recreational or personal skills and knowledge. He was a skilled IFR-rated pilot, using his flying in his consulting work and with the Civil Air Patrol on search and rescue missions. He was an athlete and, at SIU, became coaching captain of the gymnastics team. The group put on demonstrations at the well-known White City Music Hall in Illinois where all the famous Big Band-era groups performed. He was a competitive swimmer, diver and tennis player in his youth, and continued many of these intrests into adulthood.
He was a serious bicyclist, later became an RVer, world traveler and "Mr. Fix-it." Les was highly intelligent, highly productive, highly rational and highly organized, a problem solver, and a caring and supportive father, grandfather, family member, friend and husband. He managed his personal business affairs with knowledge and skill (and spreadsheets), patiently coaching his family to do the same. His adventurous youth became a serious-minded adult, yet his never lost his quiet sense of humor or his perceptiveness about people.
Les is survived by his son, Steven L. Barnes and family of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; daughter, Cathy E. Barnes of San Antonio, Texas; stepdaughter, Victoria Hollenberg of Beaver Dam, Wis.; two grandsons, Dr. Jeffrey M. Barnes of Seattle, Wash. and Kevin L. Barnes of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; sister-in-law, Shelba Barnes of West Lafayette, Ind.; nephew, Michael Barnes and family of Cincinnati, Ohio; niece, Leslee Finney and family of Decatur; his wife of 36 years, Jacqueline A. Barnes of Gulf Shores, Ala.; and far-reaching extended family.
He was predeceased by his parents; his stepdaughter, Deanna A. Hollenberg; and his good friend and brother, Jack R. Barnes of West Lafayette, Ind.
Les was loved, appreciated and admired by his family, friends and colleagues. He will be greatly missed.
His ashes will be interred with services in the State Veterans Cemetery in Spanish Fort, Ala., and headstones will be placed in two family cemetery plots. Several life celebrations are planned.
Contributions in Les' memory can be made to the NIU Foundation, where an appropriate memorial is being created. Checks may be addressed to The NIU Foundation, Attn: John Sentovich, Altgeld Hall – 132, DeKalb, IL 60115-2882, with a note on the comment line: For Les E. Barnes Memorial.