She was always full of dance no matter what project she was leading — mentoring the extensive home school community, running Uncommon Classes and a gallery or volunteering on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s Polar Express holiday train ride.
So, when Ruth (Radney Yoder) Barnes of Wooster could no longer dance physically, due to an aggressive breast cancer diagnosed in May that had metastasized to her brain and lungs, her friends danced for her.
It was a hurriedly organized “flash mob” featuring friends of all stripes, ages and cultures dressed in white, held June 12 in Akron’s Hardesty Park, with Carole King’s You’ve Got a Friend as the soundtrack. It was a joyous event for Mrs. Barnes, already under hospice care at the time, who said she would take that memory to her grave.
“I’m just overwhelmed,” Mrs. Barnes kept saying over and over again, blinking back tears.
Mrs. Barnes, 61, passed away Nov. 28, said her friend Crystal Pirri of Suffield Township, who organized the June celebration.
“Ruth sailed away on Thanksgiving, leaving us so much to be thankful for: her husband [Dave, since Sept. 8, 2012)] and daughters who have amazing work to do in the world … She poured so much love into so many of us. She is everywhere — in so many hearts, smiling and laughing and still teaching. She is a leader who will always lead my heart, quietly, with a big smile, to be a better person. I love you, Ruth!”
Akron resident Carol Bailey Floyd, founder of the local Laughter Club and a friend of Mrs. Barnes who was part of the flash mob, said, “I am not sure I ever met anyone with so many wonderful traits all in one person. Here are some words that remind me of Ruth: welcoming and gracious, interested and interesting, knowledgeable and curious, loyal and caring, consistent and reliable, persistent and indefatigable, smiling and laughing, thoughtful and loving.”
Mrs. Barnes, a native of Millersburg, held true to these words by essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, most especially as her journey was nearing its end: “It’s not the length of life, but the depth of life.”
Pirri and Mrs. Barnes met online a couple of years ago when Mrs. Barnes began posting on Pirri’s website, http://welovegratitude.com. One of her posts read: “I love learning! Every day offers a smorgasbord of opportunities for learning. My goal is to inspire others to learn something new and interesting every day! All you have to do is pay attention to the world around you.”
Mrs. Barnes is survived by her husband, Dave, daughters Kylia Radney of Cuyahoga Falls and Kari Radney of Wooster, stepdaughter Kelly Barnes of Chicago, and family and friends sprinkled around the globe.
A memorial service is planned for a later date. In lieu of flowers or other remembrances, donations may be made to Crossroads Hospice, 3743 Boettler Oaks Drive, Green, OH 44685.
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.