MIDWEST CITY — Former Oklahoma County Treasurer Joe B. Barnes of Midwest City died Sunday. He was 82.
Barnes served 17 years as Oklahoma County treasurer, winning over voters with his friendly smile and tireless promotion of economic development in Midwest City and Oklahoma County.
“Joe Barnes was one of the finest men I've ever known in my life,” said Oklahoma County Treasurer Forrest “Butch” Freeman, who served as Barnes' chief deputy before succeeding him in 1993. “He was so much more than a boss. Everything that I learned about working in county government, I learned from Joe Barnes.”
Midwest City and Oklahoma County could not have had a stronger advocate, Freeman said.
“He was one of the founding fathers of Rose State College,” Freeman said.
The college was called Mid-Del Junior College and Oscar Rose Junior College before it became Rose State College. Barnes served as the first chairman of the junior college's board of regents.
When Washington politicians and military officials began contemplating base closures, Barnes helped make sure Tinker Air Force Base survived and thrived, Freeman said. Barnes helped spearhead a bond issue that was used to clear out homes in two housing additions that were too near the end of a base runway for military officials' comfort, he said.
Barnes served six years as a Midwest City councilman, beginning in 1960, and was the first councilman to serve from Ward 6 after the council expanded from four to six members, according to family members.
The Joe B. Barnes Regional Park in Midwest City was named in Barnes' honor.
Barnes served in the U.S. Navy and was a longtime director of FNB Community Bank in Midwest City and Midwest Regional Medical Center.
Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Thursday at the communications center at Rose State College. Barnes Friederich Funeral Home, which was partly owned by Barnes, is handling the arrangements.