Richard Allen “Dick” Barnes (Delta Lambda–Middle Tennessee State ’69) passed away on Tuesday, May 10, 2023, in Lexington, Virginia. He served as Executive Director from 1985 until 1995.
Dick was born in Tallahassee, Florida, on August 30, 1940. At Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) where he majored in Education, he and twelve friends formed a local fraternity, Phi Epsilon, acquired a house, wrote bylaws, and created a ritual. The fraternity grew and in 1969 was chartered as the Delta Lambda Chapter. Dick and his brothers, including H. Lynn Greer, Jr. (Delta Lambda–Middle Tennessee State ’69), a KAOEF Trustee Emeritus, were then initiated. He obtained a master’s degree at Middle Tennessee State majoring in School Administration and taught at a middle school while attending MTSU. After graduation, Dick became the President of the Kappa Alpha Alumni Association in Murfreesboro, and during a visit from then-Knight Commander Richard T. Feller, he was offered a job to work for KA.
On April 1, 1970, he joined the administrative staff as a Traveling Chapter Advisor reporting to then Executive Secretary William E. Forester (Gamma Gamma–Memphis ’49). He was responsible for the “Western Region” and moved to Dallas, Texas, working alongside Thomas L. Tune, Jr. (Gamma Theta–Miami ’50) and William J. Graham (Beta Omicron–Louisville ’40). In 1972, Forester created the Director of Chapter Services staff position and promoted Dick. As the Order’s first Director of Chapter Services, Dick played a significant role in developing The Varlet, promoting scholarship, and transforming the National Officers’ Training School into the National Leadership Institute. In 1980, he was promoted to Assistant Executive Director, and in 1985 he was named the Order’s 4th permanent Executive Director since the position was established by the 37th Convention in 1933. As Executive Director, Dick received his first assignment from recently elected Knight Commander Idris R. Traylor, Jr.—to move the administrative offices from Atlanta to Lexington, Virginia. This task involved finding a suitable, if temporary, location for office space; hiring a new staff; and packing up and moving files, archives, memorabilia, and furniture over a long distance—and doing it within five months. The National Administrative Office opened in Lexington under Dick’s leadership in January, 1986.
For the next five years, the Knight Commander, the Executive Council, KAOEF Trustees along with Dick searched for a building with the appropriate attributes for the Order. After a number of delays and changes of plan, at last a suitable location was found—the former Rockbridge County Jail, on Courthouse Square in downtown Lexington, which had been designed by Thomas U. Walter in 1839. On September 10, 1991, Dick Barnes and then KAOEF Executive Director William E. “Bill” Garner (Alpha Upsilon–Mississippi ’81) signed the paperwork to purchase the building. Dick, who had a lifelong interest in preserving and restoring old buildings, played a significant role in supervising the building’s renovation. In 1992, the restoration was the subject of a laudatory article in Historic Preservation magazine and received an award from the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities for the best preservation project in 1992. In August 1995, the 66th Convention celebrated Dick’s 25 years on staff. On November 3, 1995, he retired as Executive Director.
Dick previously moved to the quaint village of Brownsburg, near Lexington, and while restoring yet another old house slated for demolition, Dick stored his furniture in an empty storefront. Soon neighbors began inquiring when he was going to open his antiques store, and he decided it was a fine idea. Thus, Old South Antiques was born and thrived for many years. In conjunction with his interest in old buildings and antique furnishings, in 2004, Dick became involved with his neighbors in establishing the Brownsburg Museum, of which he served as director. In 2014, a Washington and Lee University documentary film, Grain into Gold, the story of Brownsburg’s history and culture, was filmed and produced.
Dick was a member of several Courts of Honor, a member of the KAOEF Building & Grounds Committee and the KAOEF Crimson & Gold Society, and a recipient of the Knight Commander’s Accolade. He was a recipient of the Fraternity Executives Association (FEA) Distinguished Service Award, and an FEA Honorary Life Member.
The funeral for Richard Allan “Dick” Barnes will be Tuesday, May 30, with visitation at 11am, funeral service at 1pm with burial following, at Jennings and Ayers Funeral Home, 820 South Church Street, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Former Knight Commander J. Michael Duncan and Executive Director Larry Stanton Wiese will represent the Order.
A memorial service will be held at the New Providence Presbyterian Church, 1208 New Providence Road, Raphine, Virginia, on Friday, June 9, at 4pm.
Knight Commander C. Douglas Simmons III has declared an official period of mourning for thirty (30) days beginning today and concluding on June 7. During this time, members should wear a hatchment (black ribbon, inches ½ wide and ¾ inches long) behind their official badge and the Order’s flag shall be flown at half-staff at the National Administrative Office.
Condolences may be sent to the National Administrative Office to forward to the Barnes Family:
Kappa Alpha Order In Memory of Richard Barnes
115 Liberty Hall Road
Lexington, VA 24450
You may make a contribution to the KAOEF in Dick Barnes’ memory at www.KAOEF.org/Donate.