William M. Barnes, 84, longtime city special education teacher

April 02, 2004|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

William M. Barnes, a retired educator whose career in Baltimore public schools and the old Maryland Training School for Boys spanned 40 years, died in his sleep Sunday at Caton Manor Nursing Home. The Glen Burnie resident was 84.

Mr. Barnes was born and raised in Rocky Mount, N.C., and earned a bachelor's degree in education in 1945 from Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina. He then played quarterback for several years with the Norfolk Brown Bombers of the American Football League in Virginia.

He came to Baltimore in 1955 to join the faculty of the Maryland Training School for Boys, now the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School, in Cub Hill.

"He was an advocate for those boys who were juvenile delinquents, and he enjoyed teaching inner-city students. I've been places with my dad when a former student would come up and say, `Mr. Barnes, I wouldn't have this job or that or graduated from college had it not been for you,'" said a daughter, Annette C. Greene, an educator who lives in Northwood.

"He was a role model for them, and they always looked up to him," she said.

Mr. Barnes taught special education classes at Fort Worthington Elementary School on East Oliver Street for 25 years.

He earned a master's degree in special education from Loyola College in 1984. He retired in 1995.

"He had a very good character and was loved by the children. He was also loved and respected by the school staff. He could get along with anyone," said Cheryl B. McLaughlin, who teaches fourth grade at Fort Worthington. "He had children who had special needs and he addressed them individually. He was a man who had lots of patience."

Mr. Barnes' classroom was an inviting oasis for his pupils.

"It was warm, cozy and child-centered. It was a very comfortable and inviting environment. And he designed an individual plan for each of his students," Mrs. McLaughlin said. "He was so kind to his students that they sometimes would take advantage of his kindness."

"He was always a most effective teacher, and that's because he was very outgoing and personable," said Edna G. Randolph, a classmate at Elizabeth City State University and a retired city elementary school teacher.

During summers, Mr. Barnes was a physical education instructor at the Jewish Community Center in Northwest Baltimore. He also was a volunteer Little League coach for many years.

Mr. Barnes raised numerous foster children through the years, family members said.

He was a longtime active member of Ray of Hope Baptist Church and its usher board. He was also a member of the Baltimore Teachers Union.

Services were yesterday.

Mr. Barnes is survived by his wife of 48 years, the former Almetric Dolittle, a psychiatric nurse; another daughter, Phyllis T. Williamson of Owings Mills; a stepson, Pontella Mason of Baltimore; and four grandchildren. His marriage to the former Miriam Hoggard ended in divorce.

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