Carmela “Carmen” Barnes, a Truman State University employee of 21 years, died Monday, Oct. 31, at age 65 at Northeast Regional Medical Center in Kirksville, Missouri.
Barnes, born Jan. 11, 1951, was raised in Hawaii and served in the United States Army where she met her husband, according to her obituary. She is survived by one daughter, one son, nine grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and seven siblings, according to her obituary. Barnes was a member of the El Kadir Jewels and the Kirksville Order of the Eastern Star Chapter 184, according to her obituary.
She was employed with Truman’s ROTC program at Truman from 1995 until her retirement July 2016. In that time, she worked alongside ROTC staff member Doug Reinsch, who retired from Truman this year as well.
Reinsch says Barnes started out in the women’s army corps, then she worked for the Army as a federal civilian. Barnes was always in some service role, Reinsch says.
Barnes’ role within ROTC was a tough one, Reinsch says. She was the government secretary, which means she dealt with all the paperwork it took to recruit and contract a student or cadet at Truman, Reinsch says, and then all the paperwork it took to get them through training, including getting them off the train, handling plane tickets and getting them paid. He says he often wondered how one person could handle all that work.
Reinsch says Barnes also had another job where she cared for two mentally handicapped women until another caretaker took over in the evenings.
“She’d take them out to Wal-Mart each night, get their exercise, get a meal and all that stuff,” Reinsch says. “I think it was because she didn’t have any kids at home anymore, so it was just another way to serve.”
Barnes suffered from a variety of health complications throughout her life, but despite the illness, her friends, family and coworkers never saw it break her stride.
Reinsch says Barnes was always a steady presence and he could always count on a smile on her face.
Reinsch says he’d come in to the office on weekends sometimes to find her working. He says Barnes was always mission-oriented and a very pleasant person to work with.
Reinsch says after 21 years of working eight hours a day with Barnes, he probably spent more time with Barnes than with his family.
“She was a great person to spend that time with, though,” Reinsch says. “I just can’t say enough good about her.”
At her wake Sunday, Nov. 13, she was remembered by many co-workers and friends as a tough and dedicated woman.
Anyone wishing to send a memorial gift can send them to Shriner’s Hospital for Children.
This appeared in the Nov. 17 issue of the Index.