Life History by Ann Barney - Funeral Message

I know the first thing Dennis would want me to do is to thank each one of you for being here with us today. I hope that you know how much we love you and especially how much Dennis loves you. I feel so humble to be able to tell you about this great man’s life. I have prayed that I might be able to do as he would have wanted me to do. 

Talmage Dennis Barney was born the only son to Talmage A. and Clarene Robson Barney on February 8, 1946 in Phoenix, Arizona. Our country was just beginning to recover from Second World War. On the way home from the hospital, his father was so excited to have a son that he ran a red light. He received a ticket, but he always said it was worth it! They always felt Heavenly Father had sent them one of his most precious spirits. And He had!

His dad and mom were farmers and had some beautiful property out east of Mesa “in the sticks” on University between Val Vista and Greenfield. When baby Dennis was taken home from the hospital, to his mother’s surprise, it was to be in their old barn that his dad had converted into their home. It had hot and cold water, linoleum on the countertops, cement floors, a real toilet and a shower. His dad had even adorned some of the walls with wall paper (see, my children, that is why your dad loved wallpaper, too). To complete the picture of his humble beginnings, his cradle was a wooden drawer taken from a dresser. Perhaps that is where he began his love of beautiful wood. The ice chest kept things cold and being February, his family’s love kept each other warm. His family lived there for three years while Grandpa built their beautiful red-brick home next door. He was adored by his big sister, Sue Ann, and his little sisters, Kathy, Jeannie and Jaynie brought him so much love. As his family grew, his bedroom was moved out onto the back porch just outside the kitchen window. He thought he was the lucky person to get to sleep out there close to his dog. His sisters would try to see who could surprise him and turn on the electric blanket so he could get into warm sheets. German Shepherd dogs were the family’s favorite and cats roamed to take care of the gophers on the irrigation ditches. One of the most traumatic Barney dog stories was when one of their beautiful dogs was run over, receiving a broken hip. Dennis and his dad fixed the problem. They made the first legitimate skateboard, tied it to his feet, and watched him heal with health and speed. When he was able to finally “hop” on his own, he was endearingly called “Hop”. 

I married a farmer and oh how he loved being raised on a farm. He and his sisters played in the haystacks, gathered eggs, rode horses through the fields, rounded up cattle and fed lost baby lambs. They spent hours playing on a merry-go-round made of tractor seats and big tractor tires engineered by his creative father. They ate their own beef. They even had a pet monkey named Chippie! Dennis and his family worked hard preparing the fields for planting, irrigating, chopping weeds out of the fields and then picking the cotton. Dennis loved his Dad’s hired hands, Joe Ochoa, Billy Sexton and Clarence. Clarence only had one hand and Dennis always said that he was the best “hand” on the place. 

As a boy, Dennis always wanted a brother but he was given four sisters instead. He dad tried to compensate by buying him a donkey, named Harry, and an old buggy that Dennis loved to give his sisters rides in, and that is when his love for horse-drawn carriages began.

Dennis loved his dad and learned to work hard at an early age. It was his job to milk the old milk cow, Granny Girl, in the early mornings and evenings. His sisters like to take turns getting up to help him by holding her tail. He was such a tease and sometimes would squirt them in the face. At least the cats appreciated his humor!

On rare occasions, Dennis tattled on his sisters. One time, his Dad asked him to go outside and find a switch off the peach tree. He brought in an extra large switch and to his amazement, his Dad used it on him for tattling and getting his sister in trouble. After that, he learned to solve his own problems and rarely shared any sibling conflicts with his father. 

He was always playing and teasing with his sisters and one time they got him back. Jeannie, the innocent one, was always able to get Jaynie or Kathy to be the doer of “the deed”. Jaynie tells the story this way: Dennis had been working hard on the farm and at noon he came in hot and tired to rest. He was lying on his back in the lazy boy when Jeannie said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we put pepper on a spoon and put it under his nose?” Jaynie replied, “Sure, that would be funny,” so she poured the pepper and I held the spoon under his “snoring” nose. He lunged out of his chair snorting blazes of fire, one nostril and then the next, as we sat there laughing. Our laughter quickly turned to terror as we saw his face and realized the outcome of our deeds. Our family has laughed about this story many times remembering it as the only day Dennis got mad at us”.

Being disobedient didn’t ever seem to be a problem with Dennis except a few incidences with his red ranchero. He loved to drive fast and sometimes left skid marks on friend’s sidewalks. When his dad was bishop, Dennis kept getting speeding tickets and at that time they published them in the newspaper, using his given name, Talmage Barney, “cited for speeding” on this street or that. His dad was getting quite embarrassed as people thought it was him and finally threatened Dennis that HE would be driving that 1964 red ranchero if Dennis didn’t slow down. Dennis did slow down his driving, but it wasn’t until after his Dad got to have a few weeks of driving Dennis’ prized ranchero. To Dennis’ chagrin, his dad would love to roar the pipes as he left to his Bishopric meetings. I can tell the rest of that story because we were dating at the time -- Dennis was allowed to drive the family’s Plymouth station wagon with a rear-facing back seat which was nicknamed “Pig” probably because it was painted pink. Think of him coming to pick me up for a date….oh how humility comes in different ways. But, we laughed and had fun anyway!

Dennis and I had an incredible courtship as we have had a fairytale life together. We had known of each other in groups but it was when we were placed in the same seminary class the second semester of our senior year that our story began. As luck would have it, Dennis’ seat assignment was right behind mine. From that time on we grew to be such good friends. We would tease and make silly talk and even joked about getting married some day and having 12 kids. Little did we know how close to being true that would be. I am not sure if it was his big, smiling face, the way he walked with his feet turned out or his obvious love for everyone that touched my heart, but I began to slowly fall in love with him. I kept wanting him to ask me out and some of my friends kept saying that he wanted to, but HE was too shy. I remember the night of our seminary graduation on the temple grounds looking for him, just hoping to catch a glimpse. Our first semi-date was when he asked me home that night from the seminary graduation dance. I knew then that I had found “my prince”. 

It was always special to us that we got to be graduates of the 1964 Class of Mesa High. After graduation, we seemed to spend every minute we could together. We had so much fun that summer going on double dates with Dennis’ cousin, Jimmy Robson and one of his really good friends, Dean Haws and others. The fun thing was that on some of these dates the other guys took my cousin, Frankie Pomeroy. 

Dennis and I both started college at MCC in the fall. The more I grew to know Dennis, the more I grew to love him. I knew he was such a good person by the way he respected his dad and loved his mother and sisters -- and all his relatives. 

One of the sweetest early memories was at Christmas time that year. I was home and our doorbell rang. I remember opening the door and there stood Dennis, his mother and one of his sisters--and I am sorry I can’t remember which one. They were holding several wrapped Christmas gifts. They had come to wish me and my family a Merry Christmas. I can’t remember what those gifts were but there were gifts for me, my mother, my father, my brother, Larry, and my sister, Linda. It was that day that in my heart Dennis became my Father Christmas and oh how we have enjoyed the Christmas seasons. I have loved Dennis for the way he has loved my family. He loves my brothers and my sisters and all their families as if they are his own….and I say “loves” because he still does. 

It was shortly after the new year that Dennis left for his mission to London, England where he would find some his dearest friendships in his missionary companions and those people he served. I didn’t know how I could be without him, but I did know that he was where he should be. We wrote letters back and forth, and I kept close to his family. I would love going to his home for Sunday dinners and take his little sisters places, especially ice skating. His cousin, Jim, would try to keep me occupied by taking me ice skating. You’ll have to ask him about our traumatic ice skating story. I have always wished that I could have served a mission while Dennis was serving his. He grew so much spiritually, while I waited and dated. I dated some really great guys, but I knew that my heart belonged to Dennis. When Dennis returned home, he came with a lifetime love for the English people. To this day we have many dear English friends and one of his greatest desires was to get them to come and visit us to be able to take them to Salt Lake and show them all the incredible Church History sites. We were so grateful to be able to do that with Brian Pratricia Greene and I will never forget how happy he was when they were here. Some of our favorite trips were to England to visit those sweet friends. Dennis’ mission not only gave him a great love for the English people, but more importantly a greater love for our Savior, Jesus Christ. That was also the beginning of his commitment to try to do everything the Lord wanted him to do. 

Dennis and I were soon engaged and married in the Mesa, Arizona temple on August 18, 1967. I had never been to Disneyland, so that is where Dennis wanted to take me. We have been on either a merry-go-round or a roller coaster ride ever since. 

As newlyweds, we were blessed to live in a single-wide, one bedroom mobile home next to Dennis’ parent’s home. Dennis continued to work on the farm, went to school , and we started our precious family a year later with the arrival of our first son, Jason, on August 28, 1968. Jason has been such a rock for us all -- he does prefer jazz music over rock though. Fourteen months later, our second son, Denny, arrived. Denny’s zest for life has been such a joy. Fourteen months after that, our first adorable daughter, DeAnn, blessed our home. We were so thrilled to get a little girl. It was fun to watch how differently her daddy held and reacted to her. Fortunately, we were able to add a room for the boys when DeAnn came along. I had several cute little nieces and nephews that we always loved to have come over. One time, we couldn’t find some of them…they had disappeared to play. We had a really good laugh when we found them in the big metal water tank…to see all those heads bopping up with green moss covering their heads and faces!! We were blessed to have my niece, Gail, come to live with us for several years….she quite enjoyed her travel-trailer suite that was pulled up along our mobile home. Her brother, Rick, wasn’t so lucky….he got the lean-to shed out behind our mobile home. Those where such good times. They didn’t even care what I cooked to eat, just as long as there was lots of it. When we moved into our new home in Mesa, we were blessed to have Gail stay on with us. She grew to love our kids so much and was such a great help with our growing family as was her little sister, Christine.

Farming had taken a downturn and Dennis helped his parents convert one of their farms into a Mobile Home park, just to survive. Dennis began selling mobile homes that he would buy without carpet and furnishings and would then put in really nice carpet and upgraded furnishings. In 1973, we moved into our first new home that Dennis had built. We lived in that home for 13 wonderful years and made so many life-long friendships that we treasure to this day.

On August 6,1973, our daughter, Jennifer, joined our family. Jennifer has been an incredible example to us of how to love life. Two years later, September 10, 1975, Stacy came dancing into our lives, bringing with her so much joy. Three years to the day later, September 10, 1978, Darin became the new kid on the block. I think of him as our quiet giant. On March 6, 1981, Bryan (aka Angel Face) was born. He has brought so much humor into our lives.

It was during these years that Dennis had started The Carpet Company which actually began in the garage of our home in Mesa. We were blessed to have Edwin Lamoreaux, my sister’s husband, join with Dennis in building the business that has been the pride of our families. It was also a joy to Dennis to have his baby sister, Jaynie, be the secretary. Edwin and Linda moved to Texas to create their own legacy and after that Dennis went onto rename our business Landmark Interiors. I can say that from the very beginning, it was a family business. Dennis always maintained that your business is only as good as your employees, and he bragged that he had the very best….and I can’t start mentioning names or I will leave someone out. You know who you are and how you were loved

Kimberly was our next addition arriving on June 6, 1983. We were so thrilled to have another little girl. She was such a sweet, gentle child and is still that way today. She has been such an example to our family as she has endured her trials. Her dad recently experienced a tiny bit of her type of pain, and he kept saying, “I don’t know how Kimberly does this

Justin was born August 7, 1987. He probably looks more like his dad than any of the other kids. And he has so many of his dad’s great qualities, just like his other 9 siblings. We thought he was our caboose, but, then came Lindsey on February 23, 1990. Lindsey is our “baby” and what a special one she has been. Dennis loved his “babies” and has been so proud them as they have grown into adults. I know that he is smiling with pride right now. 

So much was happening during these years. We tried to buy a lot next to our home Mesa for several years. It wasn’t to be…Dennis finally built us a home in Gilbert which we moved into in the spring of 1984. Dennis was getting involved with his real estate adventures and enjoyed developing wonderful projects with his partners, Ray and Jerry. He was so excited about Val Vista Lakes and the beauty it brought to the east valley. 

One of Dennis’ greatest joys was being able to be a part of the restoration of the Nauvoo Temple. This temple has great significance in the history of our church and represents the great sacrifice that was made in our behalf. We were blessed to take many trips to Nauvoo for the open house and then for the dedication. I’ll never forget the seeing tears in Dennis’ eyes as we sat in the dedication just three rows in front of President Hinckley, a great man that we loved very much. 

It was a great surprise to our family when Dennis was called to serve as President of the Tempe Arizona University Stake, but it was one of his most special callings. He loved all those young people and believed in them. He felt so blessed to serve with so many wonderful people, each of whom he grew to love so much. 

Dennis spent many years working with the Arizona Interfaith Movement. He was humbly honored to receive the Darl Anderson Award at their annual Golden Rule Awards Banquet last year in Phoenix. He called each of you his brothers and sisters. 

The newspapers have been so wonderful in stating the many accomplishments that Dennis has given to the community It is funny because some of our own children did not realize how involved he was. They thought it was all great and wonderful but they realized that the most important thing to their dad was them, his family. As one of my daughters said, “We were the meat and everything else was the gravy!”. We always tried to take the time to help each one of them feel of our love. 

The last three to four years we have been busy fulfilling a dream that has been ours for many years, the building of our new ranch house on the point of the mountain on the original 13 Ranch property. Some of my most precious memories are the many trips Dennis and I have taken every Friday up to the ranch to get it completed. We would visit all the way up (when his cell phone got out of range), stop for hot chocolate and feel the peace and wonder of this beautiful world. Just being with him made me feel happy.

It was a huge undertaking because as you all know, Dennis wanted it perfect for all of us. It is a place where we can gather our family together. It is also a place where he could honor his own father and those loved ones who have gone on before us. It is a place where we can laugh and play games, ride horses, fish, build memories, and most importantly, a place where we can just be together as one big family. And we have been able to do all that. Our family will forever cherish the memories that have already been created at “The Ranch”…and what a blessing that these memories included Dennis. 

Dennis loved everyone. He loved each of you. He loved his family and his Pomeroy family. He loved his sisters and their spouses and their children. He loved his children and their spouses and his grandchildren. And he loved me. He was my prince and I was his Cinderella…..last Monday when I first received the heartbreaking news of his passing, I felt like my world had crumbled and that my Fairytale life had ended….then I realized that Dennis has gone away for just a short while to build our next mansion in Circle H, this one for heavenly glory. And I won’t be surprised if it is a castle made out of logs! 

It is kind of ironic that Dennis Barney died because of an enlarged heart….WE all knew he had a big heart!! And he shared the love in that heart with all of us. What a great gift it was to have him in our lives. 

Dennis Barney was and is my best friend and the love of my life.

Funeral Service, Monday, January 12, 2009, by Ann Barney