Johnny Barnes, Bermuda’s ‘Mr Comfortable’ who greeted commuters each day – obituary

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Johnny Barnes, who has died aged 93, was a well-known and beloved determine in Bermuda, the place he was often called “Mr Comfortable” for his behavior of waving cheerily at commuters each morning for 30 years from his chosen place by the Crow Lane roundabout.

Every weekday with out fail, into his nineties, Barnes would rise at 2am, breakfast, and by 3.45 have stationed himself moreover the street into Hamilton, the island’s capital. Regardless of the climate, for the subsequent six hours he would salute passers-by, shouting: “I like you – God loves you!” and blowing a kiss along with his palms.

A non secular man who belonged to the Seventh Day Adventist church, he was impressed by Christ’s teachings on cohesion. “We human beings obtained to learn to love each other,” he mentioned. “Then there wouldn’t be any wars, there wouldn’t be any killing.”

Bermuda’s street structure meant that almost all site visitors coming into Hamilton would move him. Many a motorist testified that the sight of the bearded and hat-wearing Barnes bestowing benediction had lifted their temper. In 2011, the director Matt Morris was prompted to make a brief movie about him, Mr Comfortable Man, which has since been seen on-line greater than 100,000 occasions.

“I get pleasure from making folks completely happy,” mirrored Barnes. “I wish to allow them to know that life is good, that it’s good to be alive.” In 1998, a statue of him was erected close to the roundabout, paid for by native businessmen. There was some criticism of its having been performed whereas Barnes was nonetheless alive, however he took the view that that means he may get pleasure from it too.

On the uncommon events when he failed to seem, radio stations could be deluged by callers anxious for information. In 2012 he suffered a fall whereas waving at his normal spot and was unable to rise up till an ambulance arrived. He later mentioned that he had simply tripped on the outlet worn by his standing there for 3 a long time.

By no means the much less, he was supplied with a bench and acknowledged that at his age it was time to take inventory. “Whenever you get to 92, you must decelerate a bit of bit,” he mentioned just lately. “When you have got an outdated bike you’ll be able to put oil on the wheels, however I can’t put oil on these knees.”

Though he made no announcement of his retirement, he had not been seen on the roundabout since December after struggling bother along with his legs. His place there has since been taken by one other islander, Dennis Bean.

He was born John James Randolf Adolphus Mills on June 23 1923 to oldsters initially from St Kitts. He recalled his mom telling him that he was born on a Saturday and so, in accordance with the rhyme, must work onerous for a residing.

He traced his behavior of greeting folks again to having been scolded by his mom for delivering a message to an aged lady as requested, however not having spoken to her. When he started work as an electrician on Bermuda’s railway within the Nineteen Forties, he would wave at passers-by throughout his lunch hour. He continued this apply when he later turned a bus driver.

Bermuda’s Prime Minister Michael Dunkley hailed Barnes as “a exceptional, authentic man whose life gave life to the love all of us have in our hearts, and who, from his roundabout perch every morning, expressed that like to all who handed by – buddy, acquaintance, stranger, it didn’t matter, as a result of Johnny Barnes embraced the human race.”

He’s survived by his spouse Belvina, to whom he was married in 1949. There have been no kids.

Johnny Barnes, born June 23 1923, died July 9 2016

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