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PETER BARNES

Born: April 13, 1940
Died: January 3, 2014

Born in Providence, RI, Peter Barnes was the son of Tracy Barnes '33 and Jane White Barnes. He attended the Moses Brown School and graduated from Groton before arriving at Yale, there, having married, he was a non-resident member of Berkeley College. He majored in history. After Yale and Harvard Law he practiced law in Washington, DC with the firm of Leva, Hawes, Symington, Martin and Oppenheimer until 1983, when he joined the firm of Veneble, Baetjer and Howard in Baltimore. Later he returned to Washington to join the firm of Swidler and Berlin where he remained until illness dictated his retirement. He was a member of the Metropolitan Club of Washington, DC and the Elkridge Club of Baltimore, MD.

Peter was the husband of Jan Adair, father of John E. Barnes and Katherine Barnes Diana, and the brother of Tracy Barnes, Linda Aaron and Jane Barnes. His marriage to the former Pauline Wilder ended in divorce.

I received two wonderful letters about Peter: from his wife Jan and his sister Linda.

Jan wrote: "After all these years I still look back and wonder how a Liberal, New England lawyer ever got together with a Conservative, Southern shooting instructor. I guess there is something in that old adage about opposites and attraction. Did he find the scent of Hoppe's #9 irresistible? Did he want the kind of girl who majored in Home Ec, shoots coconuts from the two hundred yard line and then goes home and bakes a cake? Whatever it was, it was love at first sight and love everlasting for both of us.

"After Groton '58 and Yale '62 Peter graduated from the Harvard Law School in 1965 and practiced law for over 35 years, primarily in the areas of commercial real estate transactions and development and in civil litigation. until illness dictated his retirement from private practice. After he recovered from his first battle with cancer, he spent 5 years working as a lawyer/consultant for the Government Printing Office in D.C. before retiring for good in 2009.

"A second battle with cancer followed, and when Peter won that round we decided, by unspoken mutual consent, to live a quiet, simple life, and these, I believe, were the happiest years of our lives.

"We enjoyed sitting at the kitchen table every morning, dressed in our wrappers, reading our five newspapers, drinking coffee and commenting on the day's events. Then Peter would head for the gym for a session of Spinning and Body Pump and I would head for the woods in Pennsylvania for an afternoon of shooting. We took long walks with our beloved dog, Magnum, enjoyed a home-cooked dinner and maybe an hour or so of news shows; PBS for Peter, and of course, Fox for me.

"My husband died on January 3, 2014. It was cancer again.

"Peter was generous, kind, wise and witty -- oh, so witty! I spent 34 years rolling around on the sofa laughing.

"All who knew him will attest that he was a pattern of probity. He set an example of how to live -- and just as important to my mind -- he showed how to die in uncomplaining Spartan dignity."

And from his sister Linda: "I loved my brother Peter a lot and am glad to tell you what I think his life was like although I didn't see him as often as I would have liked.

"He worked hard as a lawyer and liked his work. He was not only very intelligent but also very intuitive in regard to his clients and he was not afraid to take on the big guys as he did in defense of one of his friends who was being squeezed by a corporation.

"He married his first wife at a very, very young age and their life was rewarding and happy for a while, producing a daughter and a son. Peter was a close, loving and proud father to each of them. Both his children have married, have had successful careers and have made him a grandfather four times.

"He and his devoted second wife also an intelligent and caring stepmother led a happy and quite private life together of mutual understanding that allowed each of them to follow their own interests. Peter, although gregarious and extremely funny, could also be elusive and hard to reach and I think the second marriage supported both aspects of his disposition.

"He was a good brother to me, talking over the problems arising from my divorce and sharing his expertise on financial matters throughout his life. He helped all his siblings, actually, whenever there was a need, and was instrumental in our mother's being able to sell the family house after our father died. And, he was such a good companion - I think everyone always looked forward to seeing him. I know I did.

"When he retired, Peter, who had always loved dogs and was good with animals generally, volunteered at an animal shelter in Maryland, where he became and active member, sitting finally on their board. He also oversaw the planting around their house in Maryland and helped care for the plants and trees.

"My sense of his life was that it was a full and good one: happiness, friendship, respect from his peers, the love of his children and yes, both of his wives. It also included difficulties, troubles and some suffering - no full, good life can avoid these - but my sense of the man he was makes be believe that the former definitely outweighed the latter and that it would not have been possible for him to have brought such pleasure to his friends and family if he had not also felt this was the case."




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