John Jack M Barnes

July 16, 1929July 5, 2011

John M. (Jack) Barnes, 81, geologist, educator, artist, and philosopher, an Evansville resident since 1960, passed away in his McCutchanville home on July 5, 2011.

Born in Ann Arbor, MI, on July 16, 1929, he graduated from Ft. Lauderdale Central High School as a Florida state swimming champion in 1947.

At University of Michigan, he earned his Geology B.S. in 1953, M.S. in 1957, and was a member of the NCAA championship swim team.

Following employment with Carter Oil and Exxon in oil and gas exploration and production in the Michigan and Illinois Basins, he formed his own Mid-States Consulting Corporation in 1959. As a professor with University of Southern Indiana from 1969 - 1989, he helped develop and teach the Earth Sciences curriculum, authored numerous professional publications and was active concerning energy and the environment.

As a volunteer swim coach through the Evansville YMCA, he developed many outstanding young athletes, including national champions and record holders.

In retirement, he was an active environmentalist, philosopher, artist, and outdoorsman.

He is survived by his sons, William, David, and James; former wife, Catherine Meik, four grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.

Graveside services will be held at 3 pm on Monday, July 11, 2011, at McCutchanville Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Belle McGregor Student Scholarship in Geology at USI, or the YMCA Aquatics program to drown proof Evansville.

Condolences may be made online at No flowers, please.


  • Graveside Service Monday, July 11, 2011

John Jack M Barnes

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Patt McCafferty

July 25, 2011

I'm sorry to learn of your dad's passing. I have fond memories of the times we spent with him. While it wasn't mentioned anywhere, he was a quite a bicylcist, too. I recall a couple of rides David and I took with him out in the county. He could out ride me!! Our thoughts are with you and your family.
Take care.

July 18, 2011

Dear Bill, David and Jim, Your Dad was my very best friend in high school. We did many interesting things together in our little boat. We also swam together on the school team. I think about him often with fond memories and talk to him from time to time. He will be misses as I consider him a dear friend. With my sincere sympathy. Eddie Glass

July 12, 2011

Bill, David, Jim,
I am sorry to hear of the loss of your father. He was my first swimming coach and I have fond memories of him and the times all of us swam together for the YMCA. I remember the whip he had in many pictures.He used to get it out when I used to hide in the bathroom at Hartke Pool because I was so cold from being in the water early in the morning. We all had fun with that. He was a good coach and has left a legacy of good swimmers. Peace be with you.
Tom Cullum

Jan Stiver

July 12, 2011

Jim and family,
I wanted to send my sympathy on the loss of your dad. I remember him pretty vividly as the younger picture in the paper. His smile in the picture made me smile as I thought of some memorable jokes he told. You achieved so much academically and in swimming under the discipline of your dad and at the same time thought he was pretty "cool". That is quite a tribute.
I have such fond memories of those days. You are in my prayers.
Jan (Heston) Stiver

Dr. Lisa Goggin

July 12, 2011

Jack Barnes will always be fondly remembered as the teacher who opened my eyes and mind to the science of Geology. I will always be grateful to him for sharing so much of his joy in science, his eye for art, and his example of highest integrity. His excitement for Geology was infectious and I have endeavored to demonstrate the same enthusiasm in a career dedicated to the advancement of Earth Science. I hold dear his instructions and conduct my work by principles he taught me - to seek the truth, to have an objective eye and mind and to adhere to pure scientific principles. Jack gave me the greatest of gifts - a passion for science, a joy in learning and the confidence to share his legacy with my students and colleagues. He will be fondly remembered and deeply missed!

brian carnes

July 11, 2011

bill, dave, jim
i have memories throughout my life from knowing your dad and family. my foundation of growth was stronger from those experiences. my son ask me if you still have the bullwhip. wish you all well.
brian carnes

Paula Schmmidt-Lewis

July 11, 2011

Dear Jim and David: I remember your father fondly, particularly his patience with me as I took a summer school geology class after my sophomore year at DPU and a car accident left me a couple credits behind. I was not a cooperative student, with rocks being the least of my interests at the height of my new- found feminist/politically liberal, self-righteous older adolescent period spawned by being surrounded by DePauwite preppies and a semester in Greece. I tried; I really tried to fall in love with geology and to perform to my potential. But I failed. Alas, your daddy gave me a "C." Can you imagine that! I had never had a "C," in my life -- the gall of him. Looking back, I think that was probably a gift since it translated into a "pass," which was all I needed to keep my transcript unscathed. I remembrer the final, which was to identify about 100 different rocks. I was pretty sure of about 10; the rest were nothing more than a guess.

I have thought about both of you so often over the years, as well as your father, as I raised a highly successful 23 time state champion swimmer (daughter)who swam at nationals several times, and who now at Northwestern, about to be a senior, had to quit swimming after her sophomore year there due to serious shoulder injuries. My son David(26), probably even more gifted at swimming than Kristin, refused to become a competitive swimmer after two years of pressure from me to do so, in his words, due to the "utter boredom of tracing black lines" for hours and hours and hours. My point: As I became an educated swim mom, I realized how talented the two of you were and how I had no real appreciation for the sacrifices you and your father made at the time so that the two of you could achieve the national marks you did. I know your father must have been so incredibly proud of you both, and you in turn, so in awe of him for the gift he gave you both.

I am so terribly sorry for your loss. I realize there really are no words that can console one in the midst of what you must be going through now. Yet, I think I understand a bit what such a loss means. While my parents both still live, they are frail and very ill, and I worry every day about their health, anticipating the emptiness that will be left when they are gone. I hope your father's death was not too painful for him, and I hope you two and your families are not suffering unduly.

You both played a significant part in my high school life. David, had you not been my chem lab partner, my GPA would most definitely have suffered. And Jim, had you not been my boyfriend, however briefly, I might never have cut last period to ride on the back of a motorcycle in order to swim in the stripper pits and watch you swing off some outrageously high rope tethered to a tree on a cliff above the water. Nor would I have found the courage to swing from a much lower rope from a tree house on your own lake and drop (at night) into the black water, swimming to the land, screaming all the way while the snapping turtles and various water rodents nipped at my toes.

This is all to say that I am thinking of you, your dad, and your grief. Know that I loved you all as a teenager could, each in different ways, but each as genuinely as could be.

My deepest sympathy to you and your families. You are most definitely in my prayers. Hold each other close, and take good care of yourselves.


Paula Schmidt-Lewis

Rick Rheinhardt

July 10, 2011

I was very fortunate to have had Jack as a swim coach, mentor, and friend. Jack spent many years coaching our swim team year-round and traveling to meets all over the Midwest. I’ll never forget his poolside threats to throw us a bar of soap when he thought we weren’t working hard enough. These threats often became more animated when thick fog overhung Hartke pool, as it often did during our early morning workouts. You see, he could hear our voices as we chatted in the middle of the pool, and so he knew we had convened a 6:45 a.m. meeting out there somewhere in the fog. These meetings almost always were convened during the 1,500 m fly warm-up Jack had us swim every morning. Jack was an early proponent of the notion that “what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger” well before that principle became popularized. He was correct though: we lived through it all and it did make us stronger - both physically and mentally. We learned the rewards of perseverance from Jack, which we employed throughout our swimming, academic, and professional careers.
Jack was always involved in the lives of his sons and their friends (I was lucky to be one of the friends). I remember one summer when he went with us to SCUBA dive and hunt for lobsters in the Florida Keys. He surely was a brave soul to ‘chaperone’ five energetic, teenage boys. He tried to keep us out of jail, but we had a blast anyway.
Even after I had moved away, I always made a point to see Jack when I returned home to Evansville to visit family. By then, he had built his hideaway in the McCutchanville woods. I loved to sit out on his deck or by his fireplace discussing a wide range of topics with him. We often discussed our insights concerning the follies and foibles of mankind. No matter how seemingly dire things seemed, Jack was always able to apply a humorous spin, thus maintaining a necessary balance between optimism and pessimism. The pessimistic side of him helped him to clearly outline the problem at hand, while the optimistic side helped him clarify a possible solution and spurred him into action.
Jack was one of only a handful of people who have had a major influence on my life and I am sure many other swimmers, students, and acquaintances feel the same way too. I will always retain many fond memories of coach Barnes.

July 10, 2011

He will be missed by many and contributed to the growth of many. So sorry to hear of your loss.
Prayers be with you,
Carolyn Becker Higdon

July 10, 2011

Dear Jim, David, Bill and Katie,

Our condolences on the passing of Jack. We are grateful in memory of a man who gave freely of his time and expertise to prepare young swimmers for aquatic competition.

Peace to all,

Paul and Molly Carnes