One of the Greatest Men I've Ever Known

He taught me how to ride a horse, love animals, work hard, be appreciative and don’t do wait for others to do something for you. He taught me family is always important.

My grandfather, Rollin D. Barnard, passed away this morning at age 87 after a long battle with cancer. I’ve been trying to write a letter to him for the past week or so, something to put my thoughts on paper; a way to honor his life. Every time I sat down to write I would be at a loss for words; not because I have nothing to say, but because I have 37 years worth of memories and can’t decide how to summarize so much into a single message.

What he was, is and always will be to me…

My “twin”
I was born on my grandfather’s 50th birthday. We would joke about being twins and share in the celebrating. We’ve spent our birthday together nearly every year since. Occasionally I lived in another state, so we missed the joint candle blowing, but for the most part we shared a cake together on our special day.

A mentor and an example for me to follow.
His life will be a reminder of the greatness we all have within ourselves. It’s all about what you put into your life, that you can get out of it. Hopefully that message I can pass on to my own children and the message will be passed along.

Loving – Giving – Funny
He had a quirky sense of humor but had no problem laughing with us at our quirks as well. He was supportive and generous and eager to listen to ideas and share his thoughts.

A man full of ambition and a zest for life.

I feel very fortunate that he was such a intricate part of my life and we had such a strong relationship from the beginning. He was there when I was born. He spoke at my wedding. He was there for the birth of all three of my children. Two days ago I was able to be there and hold his hand, rub his head and tell him I loved him.

Things I’ve learned from him…

Just about anything is possible
He grew up in the depression and became an adult with list of great accomplishments and achievements. I don’t even know all the wonderful things he did, but here are a handful I can think of… He was president of a Midland Federal Savings, Assistant Postmaster general under Eisenhower, the Mayor of Greenwood Village and the 1994 “Citizen of the West”. He is a Veteran of World War II and the Korean War and a recipient of the Purple Heart .

Support what you believe in most
He was involved in a number of charitable organizations including Denver Zoo, National Western Stock Show, Boy Scouts, Morris Animal foundation and Children’s Hospital. He not only

Be a leader
He’s always been the guy in charge, the one taking care of business and the man rallying the troops. He didn’t wait for others to do what needed to be done, he just did it. If he couldn’t do it himself, he either knew who could or he’d find someone that could. He was a go-getter.

Be honest
Be sincere
Be helpful
Be your best
Be loving

Be supportive
Be thankful

Be happy

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I could go on for days about the things my grandfather ment to me and what I learned and how I feel, however, I think that’s the point. I will go on for the rest of my life appreciating all the greatness he added to my life and hope I can pass on at least a little bit of it.

I’m going to miss him so very much.


Rollin D. Barnard
1922 – 2009
Husband – Father to 3
Grandfather to 6 – Great-Grandfather to 12

16 thoughts on “One of the Greatest Men I've Ever Known”

  1. What a great tribute to a wonderful man. I am sure you have many great stories he shared with you, that will sustain you and come to you when you need to hear his “voice”.

    ***hugs to you and your family***

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