Bernard D. ‘Barney’ Myers

September 13, 1910

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September 5, 2020

Bernard D. ‘Barney’ Myers

September 13, 1910

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September 5, 2020

Bernard Dean Myers was born on Sept. 13, 1910, to Dan D. and Lillian Drayer Myers in Frankfort, South Dakota. He died on Sept. 5, 2020, just shy of his 110th birthday. He was the oldest of six children; the rest were girls.

Barney’s early years were spent in South Dakota, North Dakota and the upper Midwest. The family came to Montana when he entered high school, first in Miles City , then in Wibaux, where he graduated in 1927. He spent two years working on farms and ranches before he entered Montana State College (now University), where he graduated in 1934. He stayed another year to get his teaching certificate.

It was at MSC that Barney met his wife, Margaret “Bess” Griffiths. They married in 1935. They had three children: Joanne, Janet and Joyce.

Barney’s teaching jobs took them to Ingomar, Plentywood and Eureka before coming to Billings, where he taught math at Billing Senior High from 1942 to 1973. He also coached many sports before focusing on track and cross-country. His cross-country teams had five state championships in the early to mid-1960s.

Barney’s summer jobs during school breaks included driving buses in Yellowstone Park (six years), as a forest ranger in the Kootenai District (six years, including one in a fire lookout tower), surveying beet fields, and carpentry for the school district. He then went to graduate school and earned two master’s degrees. NSF grants then gave him the opportunity to study developing changes in math, including programing early computers.

In retirement, he and Bess enjoyed fishing and snowbirding until Alzheimer’s took its toll on Bess. She died in 1996. They had been married for 61 years. A lifelong athlete, Barney was still going to the gym until 2016, when he moved to Chapel Court, St. John’s.

Barney was preceded in death by his wife, Bess; his parents; daughter Joanne Schulze; and three grandchildren. He is survived by daughters Janet Lowney, Bishop, California, and Joyce Fletcher, Billings; six grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.

No services are planned per his request. Memorials in his honor may be sent to the Alzheimer’s Association or any charity of your choice.

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7 thoughts on “Bernard D. ‘Barney’ Myers”

  1. I was so greatful to have found Barney. He was such a joy to be around. He was a great historian to fill in the pieces of my life. Rest in Peace uncle Barney.

    Lisa

  2. I knew Barney through the gym. In conversation I found out his daughter(Joyce) was my work supervisor. “Small world after all.”
    Barney was such an inspiration. I remember in his late 90’s he stated “need to keep working out to continue to put my pants on while standing.”
    Barney inspired and educated many.
    Thanks Barney, you will be remembered.
    R.I.P.
    Susan

  3. Barney and Bess were friends of my father (“Barney” Byron Smith Fuller),who taught at Lincoln Junior High and coached at Billings Senior High from 1953 to 1973, and mother Lavinia L Fuller who was a registered nurse. Until 1973, when my parents retired and went traveling.

    I was fortunate enough to have Mr. Myers as a math teacher at Billings Senior High. I was able to learn basic computer math in his class, when I completed my assignments early. It lead to me opening a Computer Consulting firm in town. I had the privilege of being able to talk with Mr Myers several times after, my graduation from BHS in 1970.

    I, also, was able to watch over him during races. I am a Ham Radio operator. We often provide health and welfare for Races. He was my long distance running coach in High School and it did not surprise me to see him do long distance running after my graduation.

    I will miss him and our chats about computers and the math involved.

    Byron James Fuller (Jim) (N7VR)

  4. Mr. Myers, as I will always remember him, was my calculus and cross country coach at Senior High School- as well as a surrogate dad to a kid from a poor family. Our team scored his first Montana State cross country title in 1965 and he always said it was about his boys, not him. I visited with him at his 100th birthday party and he still recalled my track and cross country times!! An amazing mind. THANK YOU Mr. Myers!!!
    Jimmie Ashcraft, MD

  5. Barney was married to Bess. My mother, Olive (nee Hooper) was her cousin. I first met Barney one summer in the early 60’s in Whitefish Montana at Otto and Lil’s, more maternal relations. My husband and I had the great pleasure of visiting Barney, in 2017 we spent a couple of afternoons with Barney, Joyce and Joanne who all filled in the gaps on our maternal side and Barney, bless him, set us up with a list of best places to visit in Yellowstone, lots of back stories of summers and an invitation to come back for his 110 th. I know he will be in our hearts, and especially when we revisit places we shared memories of, his long and impressive and, ours still strong

  6. When Barney Myers retired in 1973, the Gazette ran a feature article lauding his remarkable success as the school’s cross-country coach.

    And a fine coach he was, leading several teams and individuals to state championships.

    But in response to that article I wrote a letter to the editor saying that I wanted readers to know that Barney Myers was an even better teacher. I added:

    “In high school, I was a mediocre cross-country runner at best, but I was a good math student and went on in college to study under one of the 20th century’s more renowned mathematicians – a former assistant to Albert Einstein, a scientist who worked with Reichard Feynman on the Manhattan Project, the inventor of the computer language BASIC, and, subsequently, the president of Dartmouth College. He was also a very good teacher.

    But Barney Myers was far better.

    Mr. Myers had an almost uncanny ability to take some of the most opaque concepts of algebra and calculus and somehow make them clear. He was not a showman; he simply communicated clearly and well. (Indeed, his quiet, almost laconic nature made the one or two jokes that he told during the year all that much more enjoyable. His smile lit up his students’ day . . .)”

    Then, as now, I finished by saying: “Thank you, Mr. Myers. I truly appreciate all you did. You were a fine teacher.” And a wonderful human being.

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