Minor Barnes

Born in Mason City, IA
Born on Apr 22, 1930
Departed on Mar 13, 2023


Minor Barnes grew up in the north-central Iowa town of Northwood.  At age 12, while skating on the Shell Rock River with his pals and his favorite cocker spaniel Major, Major fell through the ice. Minor was distraught, but Russell Perry, an upperclassman football hero, came to the rescue. Minor, still in ice skates, clutched the wet, shivering Major and ran all the way home. Major survived and Minor went on to become an Eagle Scout, a scout camp counselor, the high school valedictorian, a military aide in Europe, a longtime Cedar Rapids lawyer, a dedicated golfer and a beloved husband, father, and grandfather.

Minor died Monday March 13, 2023, at 92 years of age.  A memorial service will be held on Friday March 24, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church.  Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Home will be managing arrangements. 

Minor was born in Mason City, Iowa, on April 22, 1930, to Leon Simeon Barnes and Stella Minor Barnes. His father was editor and publisher of the Northwood Anchor, a weekly newspaper, and Minor was to follow in his father’s footsteps. But two adventures-the U.S. Navy and the law-changed those plans. 

Minor attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, for two years and spent a summer studying French at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He transferred to the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, graduating with a degree in journalism in 1952.

He started law school but enlisted two months later in Navy Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I.  Following graduation in the spring of 1953, Ensign Barnes began his naval service with Minesweeper duty aboard the USS Ruddy, which he joined at Inchon, Korea. The Ruddy operated in the Pacific, with home ports in Sasebo, Japan, and Long Beach, California.  

After two years of service, Lt. (jg) Barnes was selected to be the aide to Rear Admiral Robert B. Ellis, deputy commander in chief of U.S. Naval Forces in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, headquartered in London. This duty opened another world to the 25-year-old Iowan. He traveled with the admiral to cold war conferences in Naples, Italy; Wiesbaden, Germany; Madrid, Paris and one in London during the Suez Canal Crisis.  He was also among those attending dinners and receptions where British royalty, including the glamorous Lord and Lady Mountbatten, were among the guests.  It was a heady time.

After the Navy, Minor worked in Minneapolis for Prudential Insurance for a year, editing a publication for insurance agents. He returned to the UI College of Law, graduating with distinction in 1961. He was president of the Law Student Association, an editor of the Law Review, research assistant to renowned law professor Frank Kennedy and a member of the Phi Delta Phi law fraternity. 

Minor then joined the law firm of Ross Johnson Stewart Tinley & Peters in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  While working in Council Bluffs, he met another UI graduate and high school teacher, Suzanne Raymond. They were married August 11, 1962, in Des Moines. 

Shortly after, U.S. Senator Jack Miller came calling and asked Minor to work as his legislative aide in Washington, D.C.  While there, Minor rekindled a friendship from his minesweeper days, who happened to be the captain of the presidential yacht, the USS Sequoia. When President and Mrs. Kennedy were not aboard, Minor and Suzanne were thrilled to cruise the Potomac for an evening. It was a fascinating, though traumatic, time to be in the nation’s capital, with the Kennedy assassination and the Martin Luther King March on Washington. 

Minor and Suzanne, missing the Hawkeyes, returned to Iowa in 1965, with Minor joining Bryce Fisher and Jim Pickens in their law practice. During his 31 years of practice, Minor was president of the Linn County Bar Association (1982-83) and served on the Iowa Supreme Court Nominating Commission, which selects finalists for appointment to that court and the Iowa Court of Appeals.

Minor retired from Pickens Barnes & Abernathy in 1996. He and Suzanne moved to South Carolina for the beach, sun, and golf on Kiawah Island, where they lived for 10 years.  They then moved to Aiken, where they lived for seven years. 

Children, grandchildren, and longtime friends were the magnets that drew Minor and Suzanne back to Cedar Rapids in 2013. Minor loved living in Cedar Rapids. He served on the boards of the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra, Linn County Mental Health Association and St. Luke’s Hospital. He was chairman of the board of trustees at First Presbyterian Church and president of the Cedar Rapids Country Club board of directors.

Serious and fun-that was Minor. The law was his serious, lifetime vocation. The fun was his family, golf and travels with his golf foursome, parties, jokes, trips, music, and dancing to Frank Sinatra. A favorite trip was to Malta where a good friend, Sally Novetzke, was U.S. ambassador to that Mediterranean country in the early 1990s. 

Minor is survived by his wife of 61 years, Suzanne Barnes; son Dr. Thomas Barnes and his wife, Christine of Cedar Rapids; and son William Barnes and his wife, Katherine of Cedar Rapids, and their children, Isabel and Will.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Alice Barnes Madson. 

Memorials may be given in his name to First Presbyterian Church, 310 Fifth Street, SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401, or Hospice of Mercy. 315 18th Avenue, Hiawatha, Iowa, 52233.

As Minor, in Navy tradition, liked to say, “May you have fair winds and following seas.”