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Usually the tallest man in the room, Theron “Pud” Foy Barnett was known for his master carpentry skills, strong work ethic, and fondness for potatoes. He was quick with a smile and his kind, playful personality made him a favorite with children. He was 95 years old when he passed away, surrounded by family, on June 29, 2019, at the Guthrie County Hospital.

Born September 22, 1923, in a farmhouse near Redfield, Iowa, Pud was the son of Leslie and Grace Barnett.

Growing up in the Great Depression, he remembered sleeping outside on hot summer nights, watching his dad sing and play trombone at barn dances, and throwing rotten eggs at train engines with big brothers Melvin and Gay. Pud graduated from high school in May of 1943 and quickly enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

His high scores in advanced hydraulics at basic training earned him a spot on the Gunnery Gang aboard the flagship USS Rocky Mount. Pud, who could not swim, paid a friend to take his swimming test. He reasoned, “It wouldn’t matter if I could swim if it was 200 miles to shore.” During World War II, the Rocky Mount was in 9 amphibious invasions in the South Pacific. Pud and his shipmates saw 22 months of nonstop combat duty. Although the target of bombs, torpedoes and kamikaze attacks, “The Rock” came through unscathed. Pud told many stories about his Navy experience, including the unappetizing powdered eggs, crowded bunks, and memorable Shanghai shore leaves. After the war, Pud returned home and met the love of his life—a dark-haired, new schoolteacher named Vanita “Maxine” Drake.

Pud and Maxine eloped on Christmas Eve and had 66 happy years together. Early on they traveled the South, where construction jobs were more plentiful. Daughter Kathryn Sue Barnett was born in South Carolina and daughter Sherie Grace Barnett in Florida. The family returned to Iowa for the girls’ education. Pud borrowed $3,000 from the bank to build a sturdy, snug home in Linden, where he lived for the rest of his life. He ran a successful carpentry business with longtime friend and partner Bud. He was active in the Lions Club and helped with town events, like lighting fireworks on the Fourth of July. He and Maxine enjoyed a long retirement together—babysitting grandkids, fishing, and reconnecting with old Navy buddies. Pud particularly enjoyed visiting with “ornery cusses” like him and was grateful for their company after Maxine’s death in 2015. Pud Barnett was a great man and lived a remarkable life. We’ll remember him every time we go fishing, skip rocks on the river, hear a Johnny Cash song, or eat a slice of raw potato with a little salt.

He is survived by his baby sister Glenna Crannel (Ray) of Adel, Iowa; 2 daughters: Katy Wirt (Kevin) of Panora, Iowa, and Sherie Barnett (Steve Foritano) of Des Moines, Iowa; 6 grandchildren: Heidi Luett (Steve) of Granger, Iowa, Keesia Wirt (Shawn Hanson) of Nevada, Iowa, Troy Wirt (Keri) of Jamaica, Iowa, Bandy Wirt (Kindi) of Guthrie Center, Iowa, Jenny Foritano (Sergio Buchanan) of Des Moines, Iowa, and Luke Foritano of Des Moines, Iowa; and 14 adoring great-grandchildren: Kael, Mazian, Theron, Hudson, Bourne, Irelyn, Imersyn, Maddox, Violet, Knox, Abel, Jeniya, Rowan, and Amila. A private family service will be held this summer. Honor Pud by taking time to listen to a veteran’s story and supporting a VA Hospital near you.


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