Thomas E. Barnard

Born: Thu., Sep. 17, 1953
Died: Sun., Jan. 27, 2019

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Music by The Piano Brothers

Harding.  Dr. Thomas Barnard, Ph.D., P.E., died on January 27th, of a sudden heart attack while driving home from a hiking trip with his beloved Susquehanna Trailers group. The quintessential outdoorsman was felled by an unknown bad heart at 65-years-young, and we who are left behind are keenly aware that life can change in the blink of an eye.
Tom was born to Donald and Janice (Elwood) Barnard in Billerica, Massachusetts, and was raised on a dairy farm in Waitsfield, Vermont, along with siblings Steve, Ed, Pam and Diana.   
Tom’s father chose farming so that he could be with his family all the time, and that spirit of family was hard-wired into Tom.  In that farming community, neighbors and friends were family, and the Barnards were generous with their time and talent to all who crossed their paths. Their close-knit family shared many of life’s joys and sorrows, including the tragic death of brother Ed at age 23. 
All five children learned to ski in the heart of Vermont’s Mad River Valley, on the slopes of their farm.  Tom’s childhood dream was to build a rope tow, so they didn’t have to keep climbing back up to the top.  That activity, coupled with the incredibly hard work on the farm, left him as strong as Paul Bunyan. Harding residents will know him as the big guy on the bicycle. 
Tom graduated from Harwood Union High School in 1971, and spent the next four years at the University of Vermont, graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering.  It took him a couple of years to realize that he LOVED learning, and he was absolutely determined to make our environment better than he found it.  He traveled to Utah State to pursue a Master of Environmental Engineering.  He worked in Boston long enough to pay back his student loans, and then it was on to Cornell University for a PhD in Environmental Engineering.  After he met Rhonda at Cornell, he seized the opportunity to follow her to Colorado Springs when she joined the faculty at the Air Force Academy.  He earned Professional Engineering licenses in both Pennsylvania and Vermont.  He was proud to work on some particularly troublesome environmental problems at Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant.   While there, he skied at most of the areas in Colorado, and climbed several “fourteeners”.  

In 1993, he joined the faculty at Wilkes University to work on the new Environmental Engineering degree program.  He left to pursue a once-in-a-lifetime project in Alexandria, Egypt to clean up the city’s wastewater.  Tom was always looking to work on projects that could help the environment; on the day before he died, he volunteered to work on Pennsylvania trail care.  

He was so proud of Tyler for choosing civil engineering, and recently visited Tyler at his place of work, Engineering Ventures, in Burlington, Vermont. They collaborated on some water resources projects in Vermont, which made Tom happy-proud.
Tom loved the house in Harding, because its location reminded him of the Waitsfield farm.  He actually enjoyed yard work, and loved being able to cross-country ski around his property.  He collaborated with his neighbor Peter Caprari on producing genetically selected marigolds until they had the tallest, spindliest marigolds, probably in the world.  
Always interested in promoting integrity, transparency and fairness in government, he was a member of the League of Women Voters, Fair Districts PA, and Action Together.   He worked on many water resources/water quality issues throughout the U.S. and he cared deeply about the local Hicks Creek watershed. He was the past chairman of the International Association for Hydraulic Research.  He was first author on eighteen peer-reviewed professional papers, and taught short courses on water resources modeling.  He was nearly finished with a book for Bentley Systems, “Stormwater Conveyance Modeling and Design”, in which he was the editor and contributing author.

Tom is survived by his wife of 30 years, Rhonda Lambert, his son Tyler Barnard, brother Steve (Maureen), sisters Pam (Rick Thompson) and Diana (Bill Mayers), his brothers-in-law Wayne (Diane) Lambert and Rick Lambert,  seven nieces and nephews, and close friends Peter and Irene Caprari.  He is already sorely missed by the Susquehanna Trailers, the Wyoming Area Music Sponsors and the folks at the Italian Christian Church of Pittston.

There will be a celebration of Tom’s life on Saturday, March 9th from 4 to 7 pm at the Holiday Inn – East Mountain, 600 Wildflower Drive, W-B, PA 18702. Please bring a one-minute anecdote to share. In May, Rhonda will bring him home to his parents and brother Ed at the Waitsfield Common Cemetery.  Memorial donations can be made to Rhonda Lambert, 469 Pecks Road, Harding 18643.  She will make donations in his name to several Pennsylvania trail-keeper organizations.

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