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Dr. Douglas Barnard

10/20/1936 - 03/13/2021
Service Date: 05/22/2021
Service Time: 10:30 AM * Masks Required* Thank you!
Service Location: Bunker's Garden Chapel, 33 N. Centennial Way, Mesa, AZ 85201

Dr. Douglas Barnard was born October 20, 1936 in Ellisburg, NY and raised in upstate NY until he joined the Navy in 1957 to serve on the U.S.S. Manatee.

While on leave with a ship mate in Phoenix, he met Mary Ellen Stewart. They were married in 1958 for 61 years until Mary passed away in 2019. Together they had two children, (Russ Barnard married to Jeannie Barnard and Christy Dinges married to Tom Dinges), five grandchildren (Aaron Barnard, Matt Barnard (married to Sara Barnard), Evan Barnard, Taylor Dinges and Grayson Dinges and two great grandchildren (Rook Barnard and Camden Barnard).

Doug loved playing sports; basketball, tennis and badminton to name a few. He also enjoyed working in his wood shop on his many projects that spanned from turning bowls on his lathe, to building heirloom furniture his family will enjoy for years to come.

Civic duty and being an active contributor in his community was also very important to him. As a result, he was involved in many civic duties including chairing the Mesa Day Parade for multiple years.

In his down time, he always enjoyed listening to music playlists that he created while enjoying a sweet treat. Anyone who knew Doug well was aware of his love for pies, cookies and cakes alike. He was always appreciative of all the baked goods friends brought for him.

In addition to being a Navy Veteran, he later went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University, a Master’s from State University of New York and a Doctorate from Boston University.

He chose to go into education because he “always wanted to teach and help young people.” His proudest moment was being associated with the Mesa Public Schools and was with MPS for 49 years. He started his teaching career as a sixth- grade teacher in Black River, NY before he moved to Mesa in 1963 to teach fifth grade at Holmes Elementary School. While he held multiple positions through his tenure, most importantly he was a key figure in developing what many believe to be the outstanding reading, curriculum and distance learning programs in existence today.

He leaves a rich legacy and impact not only with his family, but with the thousands of students that attended Mesa Public Schools. As the founder of Mesa Schools Distance Learning, often referred to as the “Dean of Arizona Distance Learning”, Doug touched the lives of many and his work will continue to do so for years to come. In his own words “I love it, I love the people I work with. Everyone has the right spirit and just go about helping kids.”

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his honor to Mesa Public Schools Foundation https://secure.anedot.com/mpsf/mesa-public-schools-foundation.

Services will be May 22, 2021 at 10:30 AM at Bunker’s Garden Chapel 33 N. Centennial Way, Mesa, AZ.


  • Dearest Christie and family….what a great Dad you were blessed with. I enjoyed reading about his fulfilling life and I am sure he will be missed, most keenly by you! Sending you love! Jenn Hix!

  • Donna Phillips Snyder

    Christie, Russ and all, my favorite memory was having breakfast with Doug and Mary Ellen, at their beautiful
    home when I came to visit , he was so kind and very
    welcoming, sorry for your loss.

  • Christy may the memories of all your father accomplished and the love he poured into raising you help you during this difficult loss. Thinking about you and your family during this difficult time.

  • Dear Bernard family, Sending my sincere condolences to each of you. I had the pleasure of working with your Dad in the Community Ed Department. He was always available for a good discussion, offering all sides of any issue that may arise. I think he enjoyed ribbing me the most…just to make me think! During our time together, I also had the pleasure of meeting your Mom several times. I know good memories and love will be with you now and always. He was very proud of all of you. God’s peace to you.

  • May you find added comfort in knowing Doug’s influence still lingers in Mesa Schools and within me, personally and professionally. His heart was equal to his brilliance. So honored to have shared part of my journey with this truly remarkable man!

  • Doug was one of my favorite administrators. I loved talking with him. He was so pleased when I told him my daughter was going to Boston U.

  • Dear Barnard family: I worked with Doug in many capacities when he was the Supt. of Curriculum and Instruction, writing curriculum for Distance Learning, and especially in Community Education when he took over out department, and he and I retired at the same time. I enjoyed working for Doug, and especially appreciated his helping me to develop curriculum in varied areas. I counted Doug as a good friend and we laughed a lot and he was especially helpful to me when I needed to place my mother in a care home. I lost touch with Doug after both of us fully retired, but his kindness and helpfulness remain a positive memory for me. He influenced me professionally and he was a brilliant man. God Bless.

  • Kathleen C Tolar

    Dear Barnard Family – I am so sorry to hear about Doug’s passing. He was a force in our school district and played THE key role in establishing distance learning in our schools. His vision for education was clear and he made such an important contribution to the schools in Mesa and beyond. I think about him often and truly appreciate all he did in guiding me in my career and in helping so many others to become influential role players in the Mesa Public Schools. He will be missed.

  • I have fond memories of the days my husband and I played tennis with Doug and Mary and spent so many fun times with them. I am the only one left but have been blessed to have had them in my life. May their memories be eternal.

  • Dear Mary and family, Doug was a dedicated, masterful educator whose influence will be felt by MPS and many families through the years. I met Doug in 1968 when we both worked at the Center For Educational Advancement with Danny Dearen, Edna Gilbert and we became friends and colleagues from that time forward. We go in a lot of “good trouble” together in trying to find ways to help kids and teachers. As the years went by and I became Superintendent I wanted Doug by my side in helping make district as good as it could be. He created a great reading program, trained and outstanding group of reading specialists and aides, help start pre-school programs and programs for migrant children. We built together learning charts that went nationwide and many other programs of acclaim in the arts, music, academic excellence in his leadership role of Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. He then moved to create the distance learning program that became on of the first in the nation and reached students around the nation and world. I most remember his as a gentle soul, with a love for his work and its purpose and a special pride in his wife and children. This was a life well lived, with a wonderful legacy. He will be missed.

  • Dear Russ, Christy and family
    I am so sorry to learn of Doug’s passing. I have happy memories of him and Mary Ellen and Rusty too, when they lived in Boston while he was studying for his doctoral degree. He had a wonderful sense of humor and was fun to be with when we visited. In reading some of the condolences, I was struck by what an influence he had on so many people, both children and adults, throughout his career. I remember the last time I saw him and Mary Ellen at Grace’s 100th birthday celebration. He told me about his work on distance learning and I remember thinking at the time that would help so many children who for many reasons are unable to be full time students at school. He was ahead of his time and left a great legacy to his city, his state, and his country. His life was well lived and he will be remembered by those whose lives he touched. I hope you find comfort in your memories and the love of your family

  • Julia B Kelly

    To the Barnard Family, I had the privilege of knowing, learning, and working with Doug during my years as a principal in MPS. His knowledge and guidance was most valuable and appreciated. It was clearly evident, in any conversation with him, how very bright he was and how committed he was in making MPS an exceptional district. His impact on the district was enormous. May you find comfort in knowing he made such a wonderful difference to so many people. May his memory be a blessing.

  • Holly and Patrick Purcell

    Christy…I’m so sorry for your loss. Your dad was such a caring person and willing to help anyone with whatever they needed. His generosity in helping Patrick get an interview at Poston Jr. High can never be repaid. Patrick has remained with MPS for 25 years. Your dad was also a great wood worker. The tables he made for us in 1998 will remain in our family for years to come. I love that he signed the coffee table “To Holly and Patrick, made by Christy’s dad!!! What a terrific man! Lots of love to you and the entire family.

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