John Barnes
1931 - 2021
Utah Simple Cremations
4377 S State St.
Murray, UT
John Phillips Barnes


Salt Lake City, Utah—John passed away August 25, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah of complications from COVID-19. Even though he was vaccinated, a combination of an underlying aspiration pneumonia and waiting too long to seek care proved too much for his body to recover. John was born to Leona and Sam Barnes in Jackson, Missouri. When he was around five years old, his parents moved him and his younger brother, Sam Jr. to Cheyenne, Wyoming. The boys grew up in Cheyenne, getting into brotherly mischief involving late night escapades, firecrackers and general rowdiness befitting two best friends, born exactly five years apart. John met the love of his life, Joyce Colburn in the late 1940's while they were both in college. After getting married, they moved to Portales, New Mexico where John served as a mechanic in the Air National Guard, repairing planes used in the Korean War. Sidenote: he fudged his age in order to join the Guard! In Portales their first daughter, Ariel was born in 1952. After returning to Laramie to finish his degree, John and his family moved to Littleton, Colorado where he worked for Thiokol. In 1958, during a terrible blizzard, his second daughter Barb was born. Barb had a birth defect and needed to be rushed to a Denver hospital, but all the ambulances were out in the storm. So, John rushed his newborn baby, incubator and all, and the pediatrician to the hospital in his car for her to have emergency surgery. In 1961 John and his family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah after a job transfer to Hercules. He and Joyce proceeded to put down deep roots in Holladay, a suburb of Salt Lake. John enjoyed a long career as a systems analyst with Hercules. He was very involved in Toastmasters, was an avid skier, and competed in handball well into his late 70's. John also became an accomplished private pilot, and enjoyed his time at Skypark in Bountiful, Utah as well as flying his family to visit relatives in Wyoming and Michigan. He also supported Ariel in obtaining her student pilot license before she could legally drive a car by herself. He also taught both daughters how to drive a manual shift on the floor or column, as well as how to change tires, oil and spark plugs. John and Joyce were devoted patrons of Salt Lake's performing arts, supporting Ballet West, JazzSLC (GAM), Pioneer Theatre and the SL Acting Company. They were founding members of the Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, only missing when illness prevented them from attending. Additionally, John was a member of the Humanist Society and the Unitarian Church. John also had a strong artistic streak, including painting, photography, woodwork, carpentry and stained glass. A devoted reader of anything to do with history or politics, John remained informed and able to converse about anything from European issues to local history, national events and politics. (Thank you Frost's Books and Wellers). Following a terribly botched hip replacement surgery resulting in the loss of use of his right foot and ankle, John had to give up his home and connections with his valued wonderful neighbors. The silver lining was being able to move to Parklane independent living apartments where he made many friends and enjoyed all aspects of the community. To the dismay of many, he continued to drive, with his left leg and foot, however he did so without ever having a serious accident! (Don't try this at home folks) While he did drive through the "old neighborhood" almost daily, he also found new ways to socialize, including stopping in at his local mechanic's shop almost daily (thank you Slaugh's Car Care) and being the liquor store runner for friends at Parklane. Preceding John into the greater realms of Love were his wife Joyce, his parents, brother Sam, and granddaughter Renee. He is survived by daughters Ariel Owen a retired educator (Walnut Creek, CA), Barb Barnes a conflict resolution facilitator (Helena, MT) Granddaughter Autumn Barnes, a podcast producer (Missoula, MT), Sister in-law Anita Barnes, Nephew John Barnes (Glore), Brother/Sister in-law Frank and Charlotte Colburn, Nephew Mark Colburn (Brenda), Nieces Cate Colburn-Smith (Chris) and Anne Colburn-Ehrhart (Tim) and de facto cousin Malin Foster (Cody, WY). The family wishes to extend deeply heartfelt appreciation to: The wonderful people living in and working at the Parklane community, Wendy Flath P.T. extraordinaire, Amanda Lambert now a family friend and our "boots on the ground" in SLC, Envision Home Health, Fred Gotleib MD a practical and wise physician, the amazing physicians and nurses at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center ICU who made this dreadful time one of healing, compassion and above and beyond care, especially Dr. Sara Scott, Dr. Justine Ly, Nurses Chad, Nick, Cheyenne, Jamie and Emily. We also are incredibly grateful to all of his friends including Sue and David, Margo and Bob, Chad and Mu, Cosette and Barb, Janet, Jud and Adele, Brad and Ryan, Scott, and their wonderful neighborhood family in Holladay. In his last days, John was full of gratitude and the grace of final farewells. Truly it can be said that his tender heart was fully restored as his last words were "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you." Please be sure to tell a corny joke in his honor and consider making a donation to: The Junior League of SLC: 526 East 300 South SLC, UT 84102.
Published by The Salt Lake Tribune from Sep. 1 to Sep. 6, 2021.
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5 Entries
I'm going to miss John when I always take his order he always say half order cup of coffee don't tell the bishop he will be missed. Barbara and Ariel much love to you guys.....
Deborah Allender
September 6, 2021
Sorry to hear of John´s passing, Bill worked with him at Hercules and we have enjoyed many dinners with them over the years, we have many great stories of him, one short one, at Hercules on his bulletin board he had a ticket stub, it said retain this coupon,I think Bill said it was still there when Bill quit in1971, John and Joyce were wonderful friends and will be missed and remembered.
Bill and Marlynn Acord
September 5, 2021
I know John from the Sports Mall. Whenever I saw and talked to him, I learned something and left smiling after hearing an amusing story or joke. He was one of the rare people who was always optimistic and a pleasure to be around. When I would say, it's good to see you, his reply was, "I'd rather be seen than viewed." Cheers, John.
Kim Wunderlich
September 4, 2021
RIP from the Baca family in NM.~
Loretta Baca
September 4, 2021
I am a person who checks the obituaries most days. Today I came across the Obituary of John Barnes. Although I didn't know Mr. Barnes, until today, he is certainly someone I wish I had met and spent some precious moments with. Every so often, I read a final tribute to someone who has obviously had a positive influence in the lives of his family, and friends. Mr. Barnes was and is the type of person we should all try to learn compassion and consideration of others. Certainly there have been many people such as Mr. Barnes I have had in my 73 years of life and today, I wanted to let Mr. Barnes, his family and friends know, I wish he could have been one of them. My Sincere Condolences to his friends and loved ones!
Laurel Smith West Jordan, Utah
September 2, 2021
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