Tribute by Lynn Allred
A piece of me died today.
I thought heaven was perfect. I thought
the Lord didn't make mistakes. But today, I am left wondering.
How can this planet survive without T.
Dennis Barney was an institution, an
icon, larger than life, universally loved by all who knew him, intimately
or casually, and I . . . I was Dennis Barney's favorite person.
Oh, he adored his wife and loved his
family, but outside of his closest circle of friends and family, I was his
favorite. Others may lay claim to this honor, but rest assured. It was I.
His favorite. I know this because without a single exception, every time I
came in contact with Dennis, no matter how briefly, I left feeling like
this giant of a man was my biggest fan, and I could do no wrong. Never
doubted it. Not for a second.
I had the good fortune to serve as the
Young Women President under Bishop Barney. Shortly before I was called, an
announcement was made in the Lindsay Ward Sacrament meeting that the
following week there would be a change in the Bishopric. My eyes
immediately shifted to Counselor Barney sitting on the stand. He looked
like he was going to throw up. And I knew in that instant he would be made
the Bishop. After church, I accosted Dennis in the hallway.
"You look a little green around the
gills there, Brother Barney. You got anything you want to tell me?
I got a smile and a "Well
sure!" in return, but he couldn't look me in the eye. I just laughed
A while later when he called me to be the
Young Women President, it took me a week to receive a confirmation. I
popped into his office to talk to him about counselors. I told him I had
received a very clear answer from the Lord, took a scrap of paper, wrote
down the names of my two counselors, folded the paper in half and slowly
slid it across his desk. I wish I could describe the look on his face when
he opened the paper and read the names of the Primary President and the
Relief Society President. Of course, I was kidding, but that was the first
time I played what was to become my favorite game: Torture Bishop Barney.
One of my all time favorite memories
still makes me chuckle. My neighbor, Brent Gardner, was a counselor to
Dennis. One Sunday morning in Bishopric meeting, Bishop Barney shared an
experience he and his brother-in-law had at a country western concert the
night before with several inebriated Indians who were causing quite a
disturbance. Bishop had to use brute force to subdue them. It made for
quite a story, and Brent told me about it in some detail. That afternoon,
during BYC, I leaned over to my Laurel President and whispered some
instructions. When it came time for the Laurels to report on their
activities for the coming month, she reported what we had planned the
first three weeks then she said, "And the last week, Bishop Barney is
coming to our activity to teach us Lamanite Self Defense."
There is not a word in the English
language to describe the color of red that Bishop's face turned. His two
counselors lost it. I lost it. I was laughing so hard, I had to leave the
room. I attempted to compose myself in the hallway, but every time I tried
to walk back into the meeting, I burst out again into an uncontrollable
fit. The kids had no idea what was going on but must have thought we were
somewhat inebriated ourselves. I never did make it back into the meeting.
If I live to be one hundred, I will never
forget what Bishop Barney told me when he set me apart. "Sister
Allred, your ability to speak directly and to the point is a
strength." I was stunned. I always thought it was a weakness. I will
love him forever for that one sentence uttered under the influence of the
One busy Sunday after the block, most of
us had gone home to have lunch before we had to be back at the church for
another meeting. When one meeting started and that group walked out of the
Bishop's office, the next group walked in. Bishop Barney, knowing we had
all been well fed while he was attending back to back to back meetings,
said, "Didn't anyone even bring me a banana or something?" From
that day on, any time I had a meeting with the Bishop, I brought him a
The only way to get myself released as
the Young Women President was to have a baby. When Abbey was born, who
should come to the hospital that very night, but two of the busiest people
on earth. Dennis and Ann. They took the time to share their love and
brought Abbey the most beautiful blessing dress, which she wore the day
she was blessed and is still hanging in my closet today, eleven years
I have so many fond memories of Bishop
Barney from the short time I was privileged to serve with him. He was
completely without guile. Such a beloved leader.
For the past nine years, Dennis has
supported the family policy organization I am involved with. We trusted
his wisdom and judgment implicitly. He helped us with some extremely
difficult situations, taking time from what I know was an insanely busy
schedule to meet with us and offer his assistance. We relied on his
counsel and trusted him completely.
I feel such a profound loss.
I can say without a nanosecond's
hesitation, along with thousands and thousands of others, that I have
never known a finer human than T. Dennis Barney.
I will say what I stated publicly at a
Young Women event many years ago: I know the Savior better because I knew
How I will miss him.
Lynn Allred January 5, 2009