Eulogy for Thomas “Tim” E. Barnhouse
September 20, 2019
by Pastor John Partridge
I met with Tim’s family yesterday afternoon and, as I often do, I let them tell me stories. And for an hour or more, the stories, much like the stories that Tim often told, just kept coming. I’m not sure that I have time to share all their stories with you today, but I’m sure that all of you will be sharing stories of your own over dinner later. And some of us will be telling, and retelling, stories about Tim for years to come. But as I was thinking about all that had been said, and after I returned to my office and started looking over my notes, there was one thing that I noticed above everything else. Usually, when I talk to families and prepare to write a eulogy like this one, what I end up with is a story about that person’s life, when they were born, where they went to school, where they lived, and a few stories that give us snapshots of who they were and what they represented to their families.
But Tim’s stories are almost all the same.
Almost every one of the stories that I heard yesterday, including the ones that I told, boil down to one consistent theme. Tim genuinely cared about people. He was regularly asking the people around him, “Are you alright?” And he continued asking, even after it was obvious that he wasn’t okay. The way that his family explained it was that Tim was passionate, and almost obsessive, about making sure that things (meaning the people he cared about, and that was almost everyone) were okay. It started as soon as you met him. Tim didn’t just say hello, he had to touch you and make a tangible and personal connection with you, when he said hello. If you were at all familiar, his “hello” probably also came with a hug, and if you were family, you almost certainly got a kiss too. With Tim, there were no strangers. You started off as a friend, and quickly became family. The way that Tim’s priorities were explained to me yesterday is that Tim always put family first. After that, there were his friends, then Mount Union, and after that came everything else. After he lost Doris, he began to refer to all of his female neighbors and friends as his “girlfriends.” Maybe it was for the humor that he found in saying it, and maybe it was an effort to tell his family that he was doing okay and wasn’t as lonely as they feared he might be.
But he was a little lonely. Tim always missed his mom and he missed Doris enormously. Adjusting to being single again was hard. Recently, at church, several folks noticed that Tim was even more isolated and lonely after we lost his friends Elvin and Jack Madison in the span of barely more than two months. But Tim would never say anything about his own pain. He did, however, confess that he was happier in Florida than he was here, and everyone knew that it was because he was constantly surrounded by his family while he was there.
And the word ‘family’ is a little difficult to define for Tim. For most of us it’s our parents or our kids, but Tim’s family was, and is, bigger than that. You all know that Tim was open-hearted and generous and was always there whenever anyone needed anything, but what you might not know is how that generosity, and his sense of what it meant to be a family, played out in his personal life. Long ago, Tim’s brother took off, just disappeared, and left a wife and several small children behind. So, Tim, being who he was, just took over as the father figure to his nieces and nephews and functionally became their “Dad” along with his own two girls. For the younger ones, Tim was the only father that they ever knew. And there were others that got adopted into Tim’s family circle along the way as well. For all of these children, nieces, nephews, as well as their children, I’m just going to call them grandkids, all of them, rather than try to explain it all each time, for all of these grandkids, Tim showed up. He was there for all the basketball games, football games, cheerleader competitions, band concerts, birthdays, and everything else. If the kids were in it, Tim was there. And Tim was there so often, that other parents knew who he was, even if they didn’t know his name because he was the guy that was always there.
That was sort of a hallmark of the Tim Barnhouse that we all knew. He was there. He was there for his family, he was there for his church, he was there for his school, he was there for his community, he was there for everyone. If Tim saw someone in need, he was there. If Tim saw something that needed done, he did it. And no matter what else he was doing, he always had time for you (unless the timer on his dryer ‘dinged’ and then that had to be done before anything else). Tim liked to talk…, but you probably knew that. Tim would sit and talk forever. Many of his stories would begin with “Well…” and then he would tell you the history of all the characters in the story, and all the places in the story, and then he’d finally get around to telling you the story. He was the kind of a guy that could take an hour to tell a ten-minute story.
From the people who knew them both, I heard that Tim had his mother’s heart. He was always loving, always non-judgmental, and he even adopted his mother’s habit of sending cards to everyone that he knew for birthday’s, anniversaries, and for other significant events. It was so important to Tim that these cards went out, that in the last couple of weeks, when he wasn’t physically able to do it, he asked others to go out, and buy cards for some of his family that had birthdays coming up, and, although his hands were shaky, he signed them himself, and made sure that there was money inside, so that there would be card to open when those birthday’s arrived.
There are so many more things that just made Tim, Tim. If Tim rode in the car with you, you were free to listen to whatever music you wanted to, but if you rode in the car with Tim, the only things that you would ever hear on the radio were the Indians game, or the news. Tim wanted, needed, to focus on what he was doing when he was behind the wheel. He was anxious about getting to where he was going. Even when he wasn’t driving, he not only wanted to know where you were going, but how you planned on getting there. Tim always wanted lots of information. Tim was the guy, no matter where he was, that if the National Anthem was played…, he sang along…, at the top of his lungs…, even if no one else was singing. He asked everyone if they had checked Consumer Reports, no matter whether the planned purchase was large or small. He was a guy who loved his Mount Union Raiders but if he couldn’t be in town to see them play, he made sure to give his tickets to someone who could. Tim was the man who visited everyone that he knew who was in a nursing home. He was the guy who regularly paid for the altar flowers at church, even when he couldn’t be here to see them. And whenever he paid for those flowers, he would take them to someone who was in a nursing home or in the hospital, and if he wasn’t here, he left instructions for one of us to take them to someone for him.
Tim was a big hugger, and he was a rule follower to the point of occasionally annoying the daylights out of his family, if there was a sign at the side of the road, he insisted that it be followed. Except speed limits, which Tim often reminded his kids were, “The maximum speed that you can travel, but not the required speed.” Tim always drove at, or below, the posted speed limit. The only time that Susan thinks that he didn’t, was the day that she got her drivers’ license and totaled the car while she and Doris were going somewhere. And, as often and Susan and Tim were at loggerheads with one another, she sat there, at the hospital, fully expecting to be ripped up one side and down the other, as well as hearing story after story about how expensive cars were and how their insurance rates would go up. But none of that ever happened. There was never an argument, never a single discussion, and not one mention, ever, of how much it cost. Tim knew what was really important, and the car, and the money, weren’t it.
Tim was the guy who would go to Urgent Care for the sniffles or a sore throat because he wanted to be sure that he wouldn’t miss one of his grandkids’ events and so we know that his health had to be a concern. Toward the end, it became apparent that although Tim worried about his health, he never shared his worry with anyone else because he didn’t want us to worry. But, at some point, as he shared with his family, he knew that he wasn’t going to recover and it was at that point that he shared with one of the grandkids that, “The next few months are going to be hard.”
In his last days, Tim’s family was engulfed in an overwhelming outpouring of support because of all the lives, from Alliance, to Columbus, to Zanesville, to Florida, that had been touched by Tim Barnhouse. And at the end, for the man who had lived by the rules, and who always drove at or under the speed limit, and who insisted in always being on time, died exactly on the hour at ten o’clock. No matter what, no matter how much he was worrying, or suffering, Tim’s ever-present sense of humor endured all the way to the end. Even at the very end, after everyone thought that Tim was no longer even conscious, as the family talked about Tim’s mom, and her wonderful chocolate chip cookies, cookies that were always available no matter when you visited, suddenly Tim began to struggle, he roused himself and seemed to be in considerable pain, but he did so just so that he could say three important words. These were simultaneously words of remembrance, words of looking forward, and a reflection of his sense of humor, as Tim struggled with all the strength that he had left to say… “Chocolate chip cookies.”
Today, we know that Tim is finally healed. He is finally at rest. He has finally rejoined his mom, and God has restored to him a Doris that remembers who he is. While we grieve, we remember that Tim has finally stopped worrying because the world in which Jesus has invited him, is, at last, perfect.
So, you see, in the end, the thing that was consistent and obvious to everyone, was that Tim Barnhouse… cared. He sent cards because he cared, he visited because he cared, he got involved, he went to games and birthday parties, he told stories, he touched, he hugged, he talked, he was there, he loved… because he cared. And as I wrote this story about Tim’s life, I was reminded of the words of Jesus from John 14:12. Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” Earlier, I mentioned that one of the family said that Tim had his mother’s heart, but I also think, that in a lot of ways, Tim was who he was… because Tim also had the heart of Jesus. And I have no doubt, that also has much to do with why Tim Barnhouse will be remembered as a man… who cared.
Obituary for Tim Barnhouse
Thomas “Tim” E. Barnhouse, age 79, of Alliance, passed away at 10:10 p.m., Thursday, September 12, 2019 with his family by his side.
He was born April 24, 1940 in Alliance, Ohio to Elmer E. and Helen E. (Hurford) Barnhouse.
Tim was a 1958 graduate of Alliance High School and a graduate of Mount Union College with a Bachelor’s Degree in math. He was employed by the former Cunningham and Pickett for ten years and The Hoover Company in finance for 35 years before retiring in 2002.
He was a member of Christ United Methodist Church for more than fifty years, serving as chairman on various committees. Tim was a former member of the Board of Directors of the former Family Services of Stark County, served on the Alumni Council of the University of Mount Union, and was formerly treasurer of the Sheep and Swine Committee for the Stark County 4H Club.
Survivors include two daughters; Susan E. Barnhouse and Katharine A. (Lawrence II) Pack both of Etna, Ohio; four grandchildren, Benjamin, Rebecca, Lydia and Samantha; many nieces and nephews; many grand-nieces and grand-nephews; as well as the many close friends who along the way became family members.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, Doris J. Barnhouse whom he married November 5, 1966 and died April 13, 2016; and brother, David Barnhouse.
Services will be held at 10 a.m., Friday, September 20, 2019 at Christ United Methodist Church with Pastor John Partridge officiating. Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m., Thursday, September 19 at Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral Home.
Entombment will be at University of Mount Union Victoria’s Garden Columbarium.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Helen E. Barnhouse Trust at Christ United Methodist Church, 470 East Broadway Alliance, Ohio 44601 or to the University of Mount Union Barnhouse Education Scholarship Fund, 1972 Clark Avenue Alliance, Ohio 44601.
Arrangements are by Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral Home.