Ronald â€œRonnieâ€ Barnes, 89, passed away Tuesday Aug. 5, 2014 at Hillview Healthcare Center in La Crosse, Wis.
Ronnie was born April 14, 1925 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He was the only child of Carl and Lillian (Halla) Barnes. His family moved east like many families did in the late 20â€™s and early 30â€™s. The Great Depression had the Barnes family scrambling to make ends meet. Ronâ€™s father Carl, a gardener for Salzerâ€™s Green House, settled the family on Tyler Street in La Crosse where Ron attended school and graduated from Central High School in 1943.
Ronnie, after graduation, being part of â€œThe Greatest Generationâ€, enlisted in the United States Army. Thirty-one months of service later Ron had received 4 Bronze Battle Stars (Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe), a Victory Medal, American, European , African, and Middle Eastern Theatre ribbons, three overseas service bars, and a good conduct medal. Ronnie served as a cannoneer in a field artillery unit as well as a military policeman.
Ron married the love of his life, Juanita (Birnbaum) on July 9, 1955 at Saint James Catholic Church in La Crosse. They were blessed with their only child, Carl, in May of 1957. Juanita died on October 1, 1985 of heart complications, but not because of lack of heart.
Ronnie worked at the La Crosse Rubber Mills for 39 years. Twenty-one of those years he was manager of the Industrial Engineering Dept. The many friends and acquaintances he made throughout those years became known and loved â€œRubber Workersâ€.
Ronnie belonged to many service organizations throughout his years. These include St. James the Less Church, Knights of Columbus, Moose Lodge, Elks Lodge, Board Member of the Boys and Girls Club, Officer of Travelers Protective Association, La Crosse Rubber Mills 25 Year Club, VFW, and 69 year member of the La Crosse American Legion Post 52.
Ronnie was a simple, caring, and compassionate father and grandfather. Ron supported and lavished affection on his three grandsons calling them the joy of his life. Ronâ€™s love for his family and grandsons was first only to his passion for softball and baseball. He watched many an inning as a knowledgeable spectator, only hoping his kin would grow to love and enjoy the game as he did.
He, known as Mr. Softball played, managed, and coached fast pitch softball for seven decades. After retirement and the passing of Juanita, Ron had time to instruct softball and host Jay Buckley Baseball Tours, which put him where he wanted to be â€œclose to the games he lovedâ€. He instructed girls of all ages, throughout the Coulee Region on the art of pitching. His passion for the game was unending.
Ronnie was elected to the Wisconsin Softball Hall of Fame in 1988. His other softball awards include the Claire Raith Memorial in 1961 and the Merle Hale award in 1979. He also received the distinguished Service Award from the Coulee Region Officials Association and the National Boys and Girls Club Youth Man of the Year Award in 1998.
Ron is survived by his son Carl (Lorna) Barnes, grandsons Justin (Rachel) Barnes of Middleton, WI, Andrew of Steamboat Springs, CO, and Nicholas of La Crosse, WI. He is also survived by three great-grandchildren Audrey, Jackson, and William Barnes.
He was preceded in death by his parents Carl and Lillian, and his wife Juanita.
The family would like to give special thanks to all the caregivers especially the ones patrolling the 700 wing at Hillview Healthcare Center in La Crosse.
In lieu of flowers (which Lorna so loves) Memorial donations may be made to St. James the Less Catholic Church, Aquinas Schools, Boys and Girls Club of Greater La Crosse, or any outer seamed ball organization of your choice.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:00 AM Monday, August 11, 2014, at St. James the Less Catholic Church, 1032 Caledonia St. Rev. Robert Schaller will officiate with entombment to be held with Military Rites by the Roy L. Vingers Post No. 52, at the Catholic Cemetery, La Crosse, Wis. Visitation will be held at Blaschke & Schneider Funeral Home, 1501 West Ave, La Crosse
on Sunday, August 10, 2014, from 1 to 3:00 PM. Visitation will also be held at the church on Monday from 9:00 AM until the time of the Mass.