The spirit of Robert Barnes transitioned into eternity on July 6, 2021. Robert was born in Adrian, Michigan, on April 8, 1937, to Lloyd and Nellie Cook Barnes. Robert's mother died when he was three weeks old. His mother's younger sister, Mary, gave up her career to take care of Robert and his 4 year old brother, Raymond. A year or so later, she and Robert's father were married and she became Robert's "forever mother."
Lloyd and Mary Cook Barnes later blessed Robert and Raymond with younger siblings, Richard, Rosemary, and Ronald. After an active, healthy childhood, Robert was taken to the University of Michigan hospital in Ann Arber where he was diagnosed in August, 1950, with polio. Six months later he returned to the family home in Adrian walking with a brace on one leg and a metal crutch on both arms. Unable to play sports in high school, he earned his required physical education credits by being the football team's manager during the fall semesters. This also made it possible to be with his pals and friends. He recalls the reality of the physical challenges after polio, but he recalls no impact of his self-concept from being "different" nor does he recall any incident of being treated by his peers as being handicapped.
In high school, he was active in the Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) and became president of the Ann Arbor District of the MYF while also serving on the Detroit Conference MYF Council.
After graduation from Adrian High School in 1955, he moved with his family to their home on the Gulf Coast in Gulfport, Mississippi. He returned to Michigan to attend Albion College where he was president of his freshman class. By that time, he walked with only one cane. However, the ice and snow bound winters helped persuade him to transfer to Florida Southern College in Lakeland. He was graduated in 1959 with a Bachelor's degree in psychology.
Following graduation, Bob returned to Gulfport where he became Director of Christian Education at the First Methodist Church. He was responsible for building one of the largest youth programs in Mississippi and the first MYF Water Ski Club in the nation.
Moving to Dallas, Texas, in 1963, Bob became the Director of Christian Education for a 6,000 member Methodist church. The church's sixth floor gymnasium was an ideal place for their basketball teams to practice and for many other activities in the youth program.
Bob's maternal grandmother, Mrs. Jared Walker Cook, had lived with the Barnes family until her death in 1954. This nurtured his interest in and love for older adults. He organized the church's first XYZ Club ('Xtra Years of Zest) for weekday educational programs and activities for older adults. Even in the 1960's, there were many people 65 years and older who had never flown in an airplane. The church's XYZ Club chartered an American Airlines 747 jet and went "flight seeing" over Texas and Colorado for a memorable afternoon. Bob persuaded the church's leaders to apply for a 50 year HUD loan to build a 12 story apartment building for the church's older adults and their neighbors.
Serving as the president of the Dallas Association for Directors of Christian Education, Bob persuaded the group to change their name to the Dallas Association for Directors of Religious Education in order to have fellowship with and to learn from leaders of other faith traditions.
A couple in the church where Bob was employed had a beautiful daughter who had recently returned to the United States after serving 3 years as a Methodist missionary in Pakistan. Serving on the faculty at what was then McMurry College in Abilene, she spent the summer of 1965 on the staff of the SOS (Shepherds of the Streets) program for inner city children in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the church where Bob was employed, Dorothy Kraft and Bob Barnes organized an SOS program for inner city children in Dallas for the summer of 1966. Dorothy and Bob celebrated a beautiful Christmas wedding in 1966!
In 1968, Bob was offered the position of Director of Christian Education at Abilene's historic St. Paul United Methodist Church and Dorothy was offered her former faculty position at what had become McMurry University. Dorothy and Bob recall these as golden years building friendships that have grown over many decades, and serving the children and youth of some of Abilene's outstanding families. This also made it possible for Bob to be a part-time graduate student in Hardin-Simmons University where he earned his master's degree in counseling.
In 1972, Bob and Dorothy were both accepted to doctoral programs at the University of Georgia. Dorothy was also offered a full- time faculty position at UGA while pursuing part -time her doctoral degree. This slightly delayed completing her doctorate.
After Bob completed his PhD in Psychological Counseling, he served for 2 years as school psychologist for the Hall County School District. When he resigned in order to return to Texas, the Hall County School Board wrote a resolution honoring Bob for outstanding service to the students, faculty, and families of their community.
Returning to Texas, Bob was the founding director of the University Counseling Center at West Texas State University (now WTA&M University) and Dorothy also served on the university faculty. Always there was a longing to return to Abilene which had certainly become "home." In Dorothy's 32 years and Bob's 40 years on HSU's faculty more than 600 of their graduate students completed master's degrees in Counseling and Human Development, with more than 50 who subsequently earned doctoral degrees from outstanding universities in the United States and Canada. During that time, Bob was awarded the A.B. Shelton's Endowed Chair (professorship) at HSU and the Distinguished Alumnus award from his high school alma mater in Michigan.
At a World Congress in 1984, Bob had the honor of meeting Viktor Frank, MD, PhD, survivor of the Nazi prison camp and author of Man's Search for Meaning. He became one of Frankl's private students until Frankl's death in 1997. Serving as the Director of Psychiatry and Neurology at the University of Vienna, Prof. Frankl developed the first theory of psychology that emphasizes the significance of the human spirit in the healing process. A scientist, not a theologian, Frankl nevertheless turned to John 1:1 to name his theory. "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God." Frankl borrowed the Greek word for "word" which is logos and named his theory Logotherapy. Frankl believed that God is the goal of all meaning. Thus, Man's Search for Meaning is really man's search for God. Before Frankl's death at age 92, he wrote, "At this time in my life, it comforts me to know that a significant part of my legacy is passed into the hands and entrusted into the leadership of Dr. Robert Barnes. He represents Logotherapy at its very heart."
In Toronto, Ontario, Bob was elected president of the International Board of Directors of the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy. Twice Dr. Bob represented Hardin-Simmons University and the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy as the pulpit guest of the late Dr. Robert Schuller in the Crystal Cathedral in California. Along with the late Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross whose research identified the five stages of grief, Dr. Bob presented a workshop for the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He also presented a program for Harvard University and, with Dr. Dorothy, for national and International audiences in Washington, D.C. and New York. Dr. Bob represented Hardin-Simmons University and the Viktor Frankl Institute in London where he spoke for a conference co-sponsored by the British and European Psychological Associations. A friend in Bob's and Dorothy's church said, "As Bob's legs became weaker, he grew wings and learned how to soar."
With Bob's leadership, the International Board of Directors of the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy has established new Logotherapy Institutes and related organizations in South Africa, Israel, Australia, Turkey, Germany, England, Ireland, Finland, Canada, and Brazil.
Curriculum material written by Bob and several of his colleagues (including HSU alumna) is now being taught by the Institute's Distance Learning program in more than 40 nations. Every two years, the Viktor Frankl Institute, sponsors a World Congress on Viktor Frankl's Logotherapy with participants coming from as many as 37 nations and speaking 11 languages.
Dr. Bob's former students remember hearing of Frankl's fondness for a quoting by Albert Schweitzer who wrote, "The only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found a way to serve."
The words of Lloyd Douglas (author of The Robe) helped guide Bob Barnes' life. "Once you have found the way, it will never leave you. It will obsess you, and truly it will be a magnificent obsession." This has been the path that has guided the lives of Bob and Dorothy Barnes.
Bob Barnes is survived by his precious wife Dorothy, one cousin, Dr. Lowell Kafer, treasured colleagues, and a large "family" of forever students and dear friends.
A visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. Thursday July 8, 2021 at The Hamil Family Funeral Home, 6449 Buffalo Gap Road.
Graveside service will be held at 12:00 noon on Friday, July 9, 2021 at Elmwood Memorial Park.
A celebration of life services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, July 9, 2021 at St. Paul United Methodist Church. Services are under the direction of The Hamil Family Funeral Home.
Family suggests memorials may be made to the Viktor Frankl Institute, PO Box 15211, Abilene, Texas 79698 or the St. Paul UMC Music Program.
The memorial service will be live streamed from the church. Here is the link https://subsplash.com/st-paul-abilene/lb/mi/+2fdqk9p.