Proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ

In Memoriam: Rev. William Joseph Barnds

Ref. William Joseph Barnds

Rev. William Joseph Barnds

Fr. Barnds, passed away on Oct. 5, 2015. Below are several articles (some slightly edited) about him. The first is his obituary. Second was a facebook note from Fr. Sam Bowman, and the third was shared by Kent Barnds (Fr. Barnds’ son) on Facebook.

Rev. William Joseph Barnds, 84 of Galesburg, Illinois, died peacefully at his home on October 5, 2015.

Fr. Barnds was born on August 20, 1931, to William Paul and Ida Lou (Sterrett) Barnds in Nevada, Missouri. Education was very important to him and he earned both a bachelor’s of arts and master’s of arts from the University of Nebraska and a master’s of divinity from General Episcopal Seminary in New York City. He was ordained as a deacon in 1956 and priest in 1957. Fr. Barnds served several churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, including St. Timothy’s in Gering, where he served from 1967 until 1993. From 1993 until 1998 he served Saint Mary’s in the Highlands, Cold Spring, New York. In 1998 he was called to serve Grace Episcopal in Galesburg, where he served until his retirement in 2003. In his retirement he continued to serve as a vicar of St. John’s Preemption, Illinois. During his career, Fr. Barnds never once missed celebrating the Eucharist on a Sunday morning; this is approximately 3,016 Sundays. He served in many roles as a priest and lived to serve the church and his brothers and sisters in Christ.

His involvement extended into the community as a board member for many service and civic organizations throughout his long life as an active member of each community in which he lived. He was instrumental in the establishment of The House of Transfiguration Diocesan Retreat Center in Bayard, Nebraska, and was an influential member in establishing Northfield Villa in Scottsbluff, Neb. As a member of the Galesburg community he was a member of the Lions Club and was a board member for the Galesburg Symphony and library. More recently in his retirement he took great pride in representing his alma mater, the University Nebraska, at the inauguration of the president of Knox College. Fr. Barnds was a voracious reader, loved history, enjoyed keeping apprised of news and politics, had a very dry sense of humor and enjoyed classical and vocal music.

Fr. Barnds leaves behind his wife, Deanna (Gustafson) Barnds, with whom he celebrated 51 years of marriage this past June; along with his two children, Glenda Harlan and husband Craig of Dunlap, Illinois, their two children, Christiana and Andrea; and William Kent Barnds and wife Jennie of Davenport, Iowa, their three children, Martha, Sophie and William Benjamin. Fr. Barnds is also survived by two sisters, Virginia Albanese of Englewood, Florida and Mary Ida Garrard of Sherman, Texas, and four nieces. Fr. Barnds enjoyed family gatherings and took great pride in the accomplishments of his children and grandchildren.

A funeral for Fr. Barnds was held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 10, 2015, at Grace Anglican Church, Galesburg. The service included a celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Fr. Barnds will be buried in Funk, Nebraska at a time yet to be determined.

Memorials may be given in Fr. Barnds’ honor to St. Francis Episcopal Church in Scottsbluff, Nebraska; the Lions Club of Galesburg, Illinois; or Grace Anglican Church, Galesburg. Online condolences may be made at

From Fr. Sam Bowman:
The Rev. William Joseph Barnds was a product of St. Matthew’s, Lincoln, where his father had been rector. He served St. Paul’s, Ogallala, St. Michael’s, Imperial, St. George’s, Oshkosh and St. Timothy’s, Gering, before leaving for the Diocese of New York. He then went to Galesburg, Illinois,their present residence. He served as Historian for the Diocese of Nebraska and published a history of the Diocese. I served with him on the board of the Boy Scouts council. He was a frequent travel companion when we were in North Platte. On more than one occasion shared congregations for summer vacations. R.I.P. good friend.

From Kent Barnds:
My father, the Good Reverend as I call him, lived 84 magnificent, fulfilling years. My dad was one of the most honorable men I’ve ever encountered. He took pride in his work and family. My dad was a force and worked harder than anyone I’ve ever known.

My father’s calling and vocation in life, to be a priest, enabled him to serve Christ in many ways including: participating in the funerals of both of his parents, officiating at both of his children’s weddings (as well as co-officiating at the weddings of two nieces), and baptizing all five of his grandchildren. My dad’s life revolved around the service of Christ and he lived to celebrate The Eucharist and did so every Sunday since he was ordained to the priesthood. He did this every Sunday since his ordination in1957 (more than 3,000 Sundays). His unbroken streak makes Cal Ripkin’s consecutive games played pale in comparison. The last two Sundays of his life involved him worshipping in a pew rather than celebrating or concelebrating the Eucharist and I can’t help but feel that my father had come to believe in recent weeks that he had been a good and faithful servant but that he had run his race and that it was simply “time to go.”

My father’s closet was solid black. His apparel consisted of a white clerical collar and black clerics. This is who he was and he was the “man in black” to me and to many others who saw him walking through the streets of Gering, Neb.

My father wrote letters on a manual typewriter; I am pretty sure he was one of only a dozen people left on Earth who did this. In his younger days his weekly letter, “The Dinosaur Report,” to his parents and sisters kept everyone apprised of the things in his life and on his mind. He was one of a kind.
It is reassuring to know that my dad was not afraid of death and he was ready to go. (Recently, he introduced me to his lawyer with his trademark smirk and the introduction of “you’ll get to know him when the time comes.”) In fact, my mother and father spoke about dying Sunday evening and Monday morning. He knew what was ahead and had no fear. As a dear friend wrote last night, my father “breathed Paul, naturally.” “If we live, we live to the Lord; And, if we die, we die to the Lord, so then whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” No verse captures my father’s life and life’s work better.

My dad loved family gatherings, including funerals, and always reminded us to take family photos while together. He will be missed at the many gatherings awaiting our family. But, my father was very practical about the inevitability of death for us all and I know in my heart his last moments in his home with my mother were peaceful ones. I would expect nothing less for one of God’s most obedient servants.

– Thanks to Kathy Graham

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