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?

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? Everything OK?"

I got a smile and a "Well sure!" in return, but he couldn't look me in the eye. I just laughed at him.

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 Holy Ghost.

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 banana.

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 later.

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 Bishop Barney.

How I will miss him.

Lynn Allred January 5, 2009