Byron “Barney” Stickles
1931 - 2017
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(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: or 419-724-6182.
Published in The Blade on Jan. 14, 2017.
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10 entries
January 23, 2017
January 23,2017
Just learned of Mr. Stickles passing on Saturday. Had the opportunity to speak to his nephew and express my sorrow along with how very much he meant to me and will miss him dearly. I have been his "Mail girl" as he so affectionately referred to me, for the past 16 years. We shared many conversations where he offered wonderful insight, uplifting prospective, kindness and always a friendly hello and smile. My heart is sad and I will miss him dearly, but I am so very grateful and my life extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to be his "Mail girl" for all these years...he meant a lot to me!!!
Lisa Keller
January 16, 2017
Barney always had a smile and a warm greeting, he will be missed.
Judy Stone
January 15, 2017
Uncle barney i still remember your kindness and warm smile even though i havent seen you in years ill always remember your happiness that spread to others when you were present.
Brianna Allen
January 14, 2017
Barney was a great advocate for the animal shelter and carried that enthusiasm throughout the community. He loved interacting with others and contributed so much. He will be greatly missed. God Bless B. Lane
Barb Lane
January 14, 2017
Barney has always been a friend to me and my entire family for decades. He was always kind, helpful, and inspirational. Barney, we will truly miss your thoughtfulness, your kindness and your humor...but you are in our hearts forever.
Mary Ellen Graham
January 14, 2017
I got to know Barney through his Masonic work when I was director at Fort Meigs. He was such a pleasant and cheerful man. He will be missed.
Rick Finch
Rick Finch
January 14, 2017
My heart is breaking! I just heard of Barney's passing at 10:10 this morning--too late to make it to Perrysburg. Barney holds a special pace in my heart, forever.
Linda Saldana
January 14, 2017
To Barney Stickles Family
News of Barney's death was a shock and I am deeply saddened. It was always such a pleasure working with him on numerous train-related events. He will be greatly missed. My sincere condolences to the family.
Bill Gill
Bill Gill
January 14, 2017
Just spoke with Byron last week. So sorry to read in the Blade of his death.
Byron has been a wonderful for over 40 years. We will miss him amd will always have wonderful memories of our visits together.
Rick & Dave Killoran-Keller
January 14, 2017
Rest in Peace Worshipful Brother.
Rick Maier
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