Dr. Thomas Barnard, Ph.D., P.E., died on January 27, 2019, of a heart attack while driving home from a hiking trip with his Susquehanna Trailers group. The quintessential outdoorsman was felled by an unknown bad heart at 65 years young.
Tom was born to Donald and Janice (Elwood) Barnard in Billerica, Massachusetts, and 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. Their close-knit family shared many of life’s joys and sorrows, including the tragic death of brother Ed at age 23.
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. He loved learning and he was determined to make our environment better than he found it. He traveled to Utah State to pursue a master of environmental engineering. He went to Cornell University for a Ph.D. in environmental engineering. After he met Rhonda at Cornell, he followed 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 his son 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 and he collaborated with his neighbor Peter Caprari on producing genetically selected marigolds until they had the tallest, spindliest marigolds, probably in the world.
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 18 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.
There will be a celebration of Tom’s life on Saturday, March 9, from 4 to 7 p.m. 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 his brother Ed at the Waitsfield Common Cemetery. Memorial donations can be made to Rhonda Lambert, 469 Pecks Road, Harding, PA 18643. She will make donations in his name to several Pennsylvania trail-keeper organizations.