Traverse City Record-Eagle


May 18, 2014

Leonard R. Barnes

TRAVERSE CITY — Leonard Rudolph Barnes, 94, of Traverse City died Monday, May 12, 2014 at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City.

Len was born on Sunday, Dec. 28, 1919 to Leo and Anna (Frost) Barnes in Boyne City, Mich. During grade school in Grand Rapids, Mich. he observed a classmate’s father, outdoor writer Ben East, leave for work with a fly rod or hunting rifle in hand, and realized that the writing life would be for him. He attended high school in Cadillac, Mich., where he spent his teen years hunting and fishing with his father and friends.

He entered the ROTC in 1941, and during World War II served two years as a member of the U. S. Army on the Aleutian Island of Shemya as editor of the Post newspaper, radio station manager and president of Williwaw Tech, an on-duty education school for 3500 students. He was honorably discharged at the rank of Captain. On Oct. 17, 1953 he married the former Ellen Cutright in Detroit, who was his lifelong travel companion, interpreter and photographer at times. Under his tutelage Ellen learned to operate a double reflex camera and the old Bell and Howell movie camera.

Len was a 1943 journalism graduate of Michigan State University and managing editor of the Michigan State News when it became a daily. MSU and the University College of Communication Arts named him a Distinguished Alumnus for his award-winning travel articles.

For 26 years, Len was editor of AAA’s monthly travel magazine, Michigan Living and the author of its feature column ‘Dining Out in Michigan’ for 35 years. He was the creator in 1961 of the Auto Club’s “Bring ‘Em Back Alive!” traffic campaign and the Holiday News Service which offered live road condition information to drivers over 167 radio stations.

He is past president of the Society of American Travel Writers and the Council of Writers Organizations. His travel for AAA Michigan Living took him to more than 130 countries and all 50 states. He made many fishing films with the late Mort Neff and George Pierrot.

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