I’ve been blessed to work for Comporium for 36 years and, in those years, I’ve seen a lot of changes and have been witness to some pretty historic occasions. Early on in my career I was fortunate to represent our company on several national committees at the United States Telecom Association. This afforded me many opportunities to attend their annual convention. One year in particular stands out in my mind.
It was October 1999 and the convention was held in San Francisco. You may be wondering if this was the year of the so-called World Series earthquake? It was not. That was almost exactly 10 years earlier, but it was certainly still on the minds of many attendees that year. No, this convention was special to me for another reason altogether. You see, each year the USTA inducts special leaders into our industry Hall of Fame. And this particular year there were only two inductees – Alexander Graham Bell (posthumously) and our own John M. Barnes. Yes, that Alexander Graham Bell…..I guess you might say he was in “good company”.
John had served as a director of the USTA for many years and led many of the technical committees. He was highly regarded and just working for the same company gave me instant “clout” at industry functions. On a local note, John was also the first president of the Catawba Pioneer Club in 1971 (now the Comporium Pioneer Club). It was a wonderful dinner event and I was honored to be there to appreciate a man who had meant so much to not only our company and community, but also to our industry. My wife and I sat at a table with John’s brother, Ed, that evening. For those who knew Ed, you know that he was a man of few words but had a very quick wit. That evening, as the emcee announced that Alexander Graham Bell was being inducted, Ed leaned over to my wife and with a wink of an eye said, “It’s about time, don’t you think?”.
John passed away far too young in 2004. Just like his brothers Frank and Ed, John was a gentleman in every sense of the word. In 1999 I had no idea that in less than 5 years he would be taken away from us. Even so, on that evening in 1999, I fully appreciated the moment and am grateful to have been there to stand and give applause.
1984 - Present