Obituary: Calvin Louis Barnes, Sr.
December 21, 1933 – December 21, 2018
On Friday December 21st, Calvin Louis Barnes, Sr. completed his earthly journey on the morning of his 85th birthday. It was a perfect and tidy ending for a Texas born and raised man who never wore an unshined shoe, nor a wrinkled pair of slacks.
Standing only 5’5”, the career big rig truck driver was not physically tall in stature. However, his infectious laugh and sharp sense of humor made him a seven-footer in life, brightening every room he entered. He ordered his steak rare, margaritas strong, and coffee black – or, as he would say “black, like me.”
This larger-than-life, gregarious personality was complimented by his deep, sensitive love of family. Born to teenage parents Marie and Louis Barnes in Galveston, Texas, Calvin’s life was shaped by aunts, uncles, and cousins. His father died before his 7th birthday, and he spent his formative years in Houston and Albuquerque, before moving to San Francisco for high school in 1949. Over the next 50 years, he built his life in San Francisco, marrying four times and fathering eleven children. He also welcomed the children of his spouses and friends as if they were his own.
Calvin weaved a complex and nuanced tapestry of a family which grew far beyond his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Whenever he encountered a fatherless child in his neighborhood or church, he would show them the fatherly love he missed as a child, with many coming to know him as dad or pops.
After family, his next love was sports, especially the San Francisco 49ers, Giants, and Golden State Warriors. He attended high school at California Polytechnic, across the street from Kezar Stadium, the original home of the 49ers. A true member of “The Faithful,” he often made it known that he became a fan of the 49ers a year before they joined the NFL. With his best friend, known to his children as ‘Uncle’ Harvey, they attended 49ers games for 41 seasons, from 1973 to 2013.
After visiting every one of the 48 contiguous states during his long-haul truck driving career, he retired and moved to Oakland in 1999, leaving behind the city he loved with all of his heart. His reason? He said “some kid asked me to pay $4 for a cup of coffee, and that’s when I knew it was time to move.”
He enjoyed spending the final two decades of his life in Oakland, a place where he briefly came out of retirement to drive the courtesy shuttle part time for Kaiser Permanente until 2013. He relished the personal contact and interaction, often saying his riders and co-workers made it “the easiest job” he ever held. Calvin also settled into a new church home in nearby San Leandro, Revelation Christian Fellowship. Deacon Barnes, as he’s known, became the senior deacon at his church, bringing untold numbers of persons to Christ in his final years.
A physically active man who exercised three to four times per week well into his 80s, he suffered a massive stroke just a few months shy of his 85th birthday. He fought hard to regain his speech and strength, but after two months of intense rehabilitation, he succumbed to a second event. Calvin was preceded in death by his parents, three daughters, two sons, and is survived by a family too numerous to count.
A celebration of life to be held at 11:00am on Saturday January 5th at Revelation Christian Fellowship Church, 1670 Orchard Ave, San Leandro, CA 94577.