Reflections: Defined by Devotion

Inseparable like their late fathers at Gettysburg college, cousins Ken Barnes ’20 and Jimmy Barnes ’20 reflect on the love they have for their family—at home and on campus

Ken Barnes ’20 and James “Jimmy” Barnes ’20
Ken Barnes ’20 and James “Jimmy” Barnes ’20 at Commencement, September 2021

My dad, Peter Barnes ’78, P’20, maintained a
healthy obsession with Gettysburg College throughout life. This love sparked in 1974, his first year. He was drawn immediately to the opportunities before him and pursued them vigorously: political science, philosophy, theater, track and field, Sigma Chi, and Student Council. He was a true Renaissance man.

My dad regarded this approach as his best mechanism for meeting people, a skill he mastered early on. In his first year, his claim to fame was knowing everyone by name by Thanksgiving. This unique geniality enabled him to secure like-minded friends, including Jimmy Martino ’78, a member of the “Track Legends of ’78,” who chatted with everyone he knew while they walked from class to lunch. Before they knew it, an hour would go by.

“We had to blindfold him so that we could get to where we needed to go,” my dad would joke.

Nevertheless, my dad’s companions remained engaged in his life as he was in theirs.

As his son, I was drawn to Gettysburg through his passion for the College. I stoked the fire by entertaining the idea of attending Gettysburg alongside my cousin Jimmy. We would be there together, just as he and Uncle Pat were four decades prior—a dream he never dreamt, but thereafter indulged in.

At Gettysburg, Jimmy and I were inseparable. We ran track together. We joined Lambda Chi Alpha together. We made lasting memories together. I imagine our fathers smiled down when we walked across the graduation stage. Together.

By Ken Barnes ’20


My dad’s obsession with Gettysburg was in
lockstep with Pete’s. A Homecoming mainstay, Patrick Barnes ’79, P’20 was all too willing to serve as a poster child for the Alumni Board and no surprise, Pete was involved too. He’d walk the quad with no fewer than 15 Gettysburg Gs embroidered on his clothes, and later became known for his motto of “Family, Work, and Gettysburg College.”

Walking across campus as father and son, there was always a story. There was the infamous phone in Apple, where he and George White ’79 called in breakfast orders to the Lambda Chi house cook, Mary K. Wasko, because they didn’t want to rush over at 8 a.m. for last call. When our track teams competed in Musselman Stadium, there was Pat cheering. When the taller Barnes cousin (any guesses?) hit the long jump board just the right way to move into first, Pat’s voice was both the first and loudest. Much like Pete, Pat spoke royally of his teammates from 1975-1979. In meeting most of them, I can’t thank them enough for the wonderful impact they had on all of us.

Gettysburg brought out the best in Pete and Pat. Pat worked tirelessly toward the pursuit of justice for domestic violence victims as a prosecutor, and Pete devoted a career toward the betterment of his district as a Superior Court judge.

Yet each was best defined by his devotion to fatherhood.
Ken and I are so close because we were raised in their images. The love Pete and Pat had for their families, consequently, became a love Ken and I share for one another. The photo of us from Commencement on Sept. 26, 2021, is a reminder of the wonderful journey we’ve shared together—and we have Gettysburg to thank for making it a reality.

By James “Jimmy” Barnes ’20

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