Gary Loren Barnes

Gary Loren Barnes, 77, passed away at his home on Saturday, March 12, 2016, following a long illness with his wife, Paula, at his side. He celebrated 36 years of marriage to Paula on March 8, 2016.

Gary was born in Hutchinson, Kan., on July 19, 1938, to Elmer “Bus” Leland Barnes and Jessie Mae Mustain Newburn.

In addition to this wife, he is survived by his sisters, Rita Dunn of Wichita, Kan., Judy Watson of Monet, Mo., and Debbie Lacombe of Medford, Ore.; brother Dennis Michael Barnes of Myrtle Creek, Ore; his children, Wendy Barnes–Tarrant and husband Greg of Marietta, Ga., Kenny Barnes of Fairfax, Gina Hopkins and husband Linton of Atlanta, Marco Valdez of San Pedro, Calif., Shawn Valdez of Fredericksburg and Shirley Donahue and husband Chuck of Fredericksburg; grandchildren Madison Barnes, Linton Hopkins, Kenny Barnes Jr., Avery Hopkins, Moira Donahue, Mckenzie Barnes, Corwyn Donahue, Elysia Barnes and Joaquin Valdez; and great-granddaughter Ryan Aubrey Barnes. He was preceded in death by Irene Sigler, mother of Wendy, Kenny and Gina.

Gary wore many hats throughout his life. He was in the Navy, serving as a sonarman on the mine-sweeper U.S.S. Esteem and proud that boat came back into service from Desert Storm. Gary later served as a radar tech in the Air Force, stationed at Incirlik Airbase, Turkey. Gary was humble about his duty years, when told “thank you for your service” he would reply, “thank you for my career training and opportunities.” Building on this experience, Gary’s career in electronics took him all around the world, working for Global Marine on the research vessels Glomar Challenger and Glomar Explorer. Settling in Fredericksburg with Paula and family, he later retired from Raytheon and worked for the Stafford County IT dept. for 16 years. Beyond his career, he also brought joy as he volunteered more than 1500 hours at Mary Washington Hospital, where he got a kick out of “pushing people around and telling them where to go.”

A shy man by nature, he stretched his boundaries by participating with the Virginia Renaissance Faire across two decades. He brought delight to cast and patrons alike, spinning sea stories (of sea serpents and mermaids and such) as Randy Stubbs, a salty seafarer who taught Sir Francis Drake all he knows. He also inspired and starred in The Other Wise Man, a story that was near to his heart at his Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fredericksburg.

Gary was a passionate poet, artist, philosopher and photographer. Known as Soji, he was part of a worldwide community of haiku poets and shared his poetry online at his site, Haiku Poet’s Hut ( He shared his thoughts on life, the universe, and everything at Open Spiritual Mind Center ( In all parts of his life, he was a teacher and a guide, and strived to make the world a more positive and loving place. He had a goal to make at least three people smile every day.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, April 8, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fredericksburg.

Memorials may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fredericksburg, Memorial Garden Fund, 25 Chalice Circle, Fredericksburg, VA 22405. “Sometime in the next 24 hours the universe is going to show off just for you. It could be something spectacular or something as simple as your everyday coffee tasting especially rich this morning. Take a moment to appreciate the gift, the universe likes to know you’re paying attention; in fact, it may seem to gift you more often. Enjoy your day(s).” –Soji (Gary)

Online condolences may be expressed to Gary’s family at