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Byron “Barney” Stickles


1931 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
(NEWS ARTICLE) Byron "Barney" Stickles, who considered himself the last living railroad telegrapher in the Toledo area and whose diverse interests led him to pursue multiple degrees and vocations and become a volunteer and leader in child and animal welfare groups, died Thursday in University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio Hospital. He was 85.

He died of cardiac arrest, said Robert Zimmerman, a nephew. He had recent health problems, but otherwise remained active.

Mr. Stickles was a longtime board member at the Toledo Animal Shelter Association and board president at the time of his death. During his leadership the association built its new shelter on Wyman Avenue.

"He wasn't going to slow down," Mr. Zimmerman said. "He would like to be remembered as an outgoing and giving person who did above and beyond for everybody and every organization he was involved in. He was driven, because he lost his father early in life. He knew what he needed to do to succeed."

Mr. Stickles of Maumee, a longtime Mason, was a longtime member and past master of Northern Light Lodge, F&AM, from which he recently received a 65-year award. He was lodge historian and had a command of how Masonic groups grew across northern Ohio starting in 1813. He often led Masonic services for deceased members.

He worked as a tower man and clerk for the Wabash Railroad from 1951 until 1964, inspiring a lifelong interest in telegraphy and its history that he pursued even after he left railroad employment in 1968.

That profession waned in the second half of the 20th century, increasingly supplanted by other technologies. He amassed a large collection of telegraphic equipment and related memorabilia, which was displayed last year at the Main Library downtown.

"When the old-timers passed on, their widows would bring their stuff over to me," he told The Blade 11 months ago. "I didn't throw away any of it, because I wanted to preserve history."

The exhibit also featured Mr. Stickles, in a video recorded at the library, explaining the equipment and the evolution of telegraphic technology.

William Gill, a local railroad historian and passenger-train advocate, described Mr. Stickles as an "exemplary" historian and "generous spirit."

"He was so cordial and so excited, even at his age," Mr. Gill said.

Mr. Stickles was longtime owner of Styl-Rite Lamp Shade Inc. on Monroe Street at Douglas Road, where he offered more than tasteful covers for bare bulbs. Customers learned they could entrust antiques and heirlooms to Mr. Stickles and James Otis, who became a vice president.

"They want us to repair and restore their treasures or to make lamps out of them," Mr. Stickles told the former Toledo Times in 1974. Through the years, Styl-Rite made lamps out of trumpets, dolls, piano legs, a brass fire hose nozzle.

The Maumee High graduate attended Davis Business College for a year when he took training in telegraphy. Decades later, he received degrees from what is now Siena Heights University, where he became a trustee, and other institutions. He had two master's degrees. He was licensed as a clinical counselor in Ohio and had training in mechanotherapy and clinical hypnotherapy.

"He was a good listener, and he was able to help people understand how they could change their behavior to help improve themselves," nephew Stephen Charter said.

Mr. Stickles wrote a 1983 master's thesis about fellow telegrapher Roy Engler and his wife, Georgette, who formed what has become Sunshine Communities, which serves children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families. Mr. Stickles was a former secretary-treasurer of the Sunshine board.

Born March 13, 1931, to Gladys and Francis Stickles, he was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and traced his heritage to the Alden family and passage on the Mayflower, but was rooted in northwest Ohio.

"He knew the area and had a good sense of the history of the area and the community, what went on and what was going on," Mr. Charter said. "He had the Toledo feel."

He did not marry and had no children, family members said.

Surviving is his sister, Marie Zimmerman Meade.

Graveside services will be at 11 a.m. today in Fort Meigs Cemetery, Perrysburg, where he was involved in the installation of a Masonic monument. Arrangements are by the Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home. The family suggests tributes to the Toledo Animal Shelter Association.

Society editor Barbara Hendel contributed to this report.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: [email protected] or 419-724-6182.
Published in Toledo Blade on Jan. 14, 2017
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