Mayroe Enos “Barney” Michael, 97, marched softly into the arms of Jesus on June 14, 2021 at Hillside Country Living where he had resided for the past two years. Barney was born April 17, 1924 on Court Street in Montpelier, Ohio. He was the youngest son of Hurschul and Violet (Stuller) Michael.
Barney’s childhood was spent in his beloved hometown of Montpelier, Ohio, where he grew up on Mill Street “down by the railroad tracks.” He spent countless hours exploring the banks of the St. Joe River and told many stories of his adventures, nearly drowning in one incident.
A wiry, scrappy, teen, he and his older brother Devore (Bus), were pinsetters at the bowling alley located above the Louden Department store in downtown Montpelier. He graduated from Montpelier High School in 1924 and took great joy in attending his class reunions well into his late 90’s. He sincerely valued his classmates and the lifelong friendships they offered him.
A proud, brave veteran, Barney was drafted into the U.S. Army in January of 1943 and completed his training at Camp Gordon, Georgia prior to landing on Omaha Beach on August 23, 1944. A member of the 254th Field Artillery Battalion, he was an AA machine gunner and expert in firing a 155 Howitzer on the front line during the Battle of the Bulge.
He and his comrades endured over 221 days of battle without relief in the frozen tundra of the European Theater in France, Germany, and Belgium. His division was also a refueling reconnaissance for General George Patton’s division and was known as the “Red Ball Express.”
Barney shared the story of driving to a location with plans to travel a specific route, but upon seeing General Patton at the crossroad, Patton pointed his unit in the opposite direction. When Barney was asked what direction did you go, he replied “the way Patton pointed!”
He rose to the rank of corporal and was honorably discharged on February 10, 1946. He was awarded the European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three bronze stars, the Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal, and WWII Victory Medal.
Always a humble soldier, Barney seldom spoke of his military experiences but faithfully attended yearly reunions with his army unit. Truly a member of the “Greatest Generation,” he was proud of his service to his country and especially proud of the American flag that he risked his life for to allow citizens their freedoms.
He did share memories of severe homesickness and vowed that he would never leave Montpelier if he survived the war. He also vowed never to drink powdered milk again; two vows he fully embraced.
Barney met his wife, Gertrude “Gert” (Foster) Michael in Hillsdale, Michigan at his welcome home party. He proposed to Gert after knowing her only 29 days and they were married on July 19, 1946 at her parent’s home on Spring Street in Hillsdale.
They enjoyed 73 years of marriage and when asked the secret to a long marriage, Barney never hesitated to reply, “It takes a lot of grit.” They were lifelong residents of Montpelier where they raised their family.
Following WWII, Barney worked at the White Motor (Body Works) factory in Montpelier where he learned to weld and later used that skill and others, as a car inspector and car repairman on the Wabash Railroad and the Norfolk and Western Railroad.
He was also a member of the wreck train crew where he was called out at all hours to assist with the repair and cleanup of train accidents. He transitioned to the position of “wreck train cook,” where his excellent cooking skills were appreciated by the crew especially when he prepared his famous chili.
Barney exemplified a true servant’s heart and treated everyone equally. His genuine passion for helping others and being concerned about their well- being was evident his entire life.
After retirement, he volunteered delivering Meals on Wheels and also volunteered at Hillside Country Living. He and Gert especially enjoyed preparing the pancake and sausage suppers for the nursing home residents and accompanying them on trips to the fair.
He was a member of the Montpelier American Legion Post 109 and for many years made the chili that was served on Veteran’s Day. A staunch Democrat, he volunteered yearly at the Williams County Fair in the Democrat booth.
He used his time volunteering at the fair booth to additionally entertain his grandchildren, family, and friends by tossing quarters and nickels under the grandstand and watching people pick them up.
Additionally, he loved bowling, playing euchre, WWE wrestling, fishing, and trips to the casino where he could be spotted wearing his lucky hat and shirt. If he lost at the casino, he always reminded his kids that he taught them not to gamble.
He thoroughly enjoyed the companionship of his dogs and grand dogs and spoiled them with relentless treats and steadfast attention. He could frequently be found spending many hours on his front porch enjoying coffee and conversation with family, neighbors, and friends.
Grandpa Barney to his grandchildren, he will be missed for his wit and wisdom and his keen ability to always make them laugh either at his antics, songs, or his “colorful” language. His family and friends treasured his genuine heart and blunt honesty. His steadfast example of love, strength, and generosity are his legacy to all who knew him.
He maintained a sharp mind to the very end and he frequently gave out his business cards that contained his “Barney’s Words of Wisdom” that stated, “Keep Your Chin Up and Do Your Best and God Will Do the Rest.” It was a motto he fully embraced and served him well throughout many trials in his life.
He could find humor and laughter in every situation and family and friends were blessed to know him. His Christian actions and attitude were exhibited every day of his life. Well done, Barney, Dad, and Grandpa, our good and faithful servant. We will see you over the rainbow on your front porch surrounded by everyone you love.
He is survived by his children, Tom (Barb) Michael of St. Louis, Missouri; Susan (Keith) Wiesehan of Antwerp, Ohio; Jeanne (Daryl) Caryer of Bryan, Ohio; Becky Robertson of Bryan, Ohio and brother-in law Richard (Rachel) Foster of Zephryhills, Florida; twelve grandchildren; thirty great grandchildren with two additional great grandchildren expected in the coming months, and special neighbors and family friends, Michael and Tina DeLong.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Hurschul and Violet (Stuller) Michael, brothers, Mercilyn “Mike” Michael; Devore (Bus) Michael, and Stepbrother, Graydon McCullough.
The family especially wants to thank the entire staff at Hillside Country Living for their wonderful care and especially for the countless hours they spent navigating Barney and others through the COVID pandemic. Your conscientious care is nothing short of a miracle.
Visitation for Barney will be on Friday, June 18, 2021 from 3-8pm at the Thompson Funeral Home on Main Street in Montpelier. Services will be Saturday at 11am at the St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Montpelier with Ted Mathes to officiate. Montpelier Veterans will assist with the rites. A graveside service will be held after the luncheon at 2:30pm at Lost Creek Cemetery in Hicksville, Ohio.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Montpelier Police Department K9 Unit or the Montpelier Parks and Recreation Summer Lunch Program.
Online condolences maybe be left at www.thethompsonfuneralhome.com.
Source: The Village Reporter