I don't normally use this blog for personal stuff, but I wanted to note the passing of my Uncle Don Barnes, who died early this morning at the age of 94.
Don had suffered from Alzheimer's for the last 5 years so in a sense, he's been gone for a while. Nonetheless, I wanted to make a short note about this person who had a real influence on me.
Uncle Don, who along with my late Aunt Faith lived in the Rapid City area the entire time I was growing up; the Barnes' were a regular part of our lives during those years. We visited their house a lot when I was younger and if you could see what the place looked like, you'd understand the influence. Don was a retired electrical engineer (he worked for the FAA for some of his career IIRC) and a real pack rat. His garage and basement were stuffed full of all sorts of fascinating old electronics junk. I spent a lot of time in that basement (it was a fun place to play for us kids) and have vivid memories of the place. Don was one of the reasons I'm as into technology as I am. He was pretty much always interested in new tech and we had fun talking about whatever the latest stuff was. I often brought over some piece of audio gear, often in non-working condition. He was always ready to dive in and either get his soldering iron warmed up to fix it or show me what had to be done with it. I learned a lot about how electronics work from him and also have my background knowledge of old tech thanks to him (and my Dad, of course).
Don was also extraordinarily generous, as anyone who knew him could tell you. While he collected a lot of old stuff, he didn't hesitate to provide it to anyone who needed it. When I was done with high school and didn't have a car to drive, he gave me his unused 1962 Mercury Meteor. This old car, which was black with a red interior (and often dubbed "The Batmobile") and had rear fins, got me through several years of regular use.
So Don will not be forgotten in my family. His struggle with Alzheimer's was not easy to watch but we're fortunate that we had so many years with him. RIP, Uncle Don: we all miss you.