Mary Ellen Allen Barnes was born June 30, 1931, in Cardston, Alberta, Canada, to Verda Leavitt and Lorin Broadbent Allen, their sixth child. Her mother died in 1934, when Mary was only three years old. Her father remarried in 1936. Mary moved with her family to Idaho in 1944, where she remained the rest of her life.
Mary met her future husband, Homer Barnes, while working at Idaho Creameries located at 13th and Bannock in Boise, ID. They met while making popsicles and Dreamsicles. They were married in Winnemucca, NV, on June 30, 1950, after eloping, shortly before Homer entered basic training for the Army. After marrying, Homer and Mary took up residence in Boise on 12th Street. The next year, their first son arrived. Their marriage was ultimately blessed with eight children ~ six boys and two girls.
The couple moved their growing family to their home on Apple Street in 1961, where their last child was born. Homer continued to serve in the Idaho Army National Guard while Mary raised their family. In addition to their eight children, Homer and Mary fostered four special needs children.
Mary started holding Head Start classes in her home, which eventually led to her opening her own day care, Applewood Day Care. Mary owned and operated the day care for approximately 20 years; it was ultimately licensed for 50 children from newborn to 8 years old, with 12 employees. In the early 1980s, Mary opened a woman’s health club located at the business complex at Apple Street and Boise Avenue, which she had for about seven years. It wasn’t uncommon for her to work a shift at the day care and then go to the health club to run an exercise class.
When Homer retired after 37 years in the Army National Guard, he finally convinced Mary to slow down a bit and retire. Mary’s idea of slowing down meant taking up new hobbies. She and Homer joined a square dancing club, which they enjoyed for about 18 months. She also took up oil painting and finally had the time to spend hours in her garden and growing flowers, one of her great loves. Mary had spent years sewing clothing for her family; she started making quilts about the time they joined the square dancing club.
Mary joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when she was in her late 20s and remained a faithful member all of her life. She served in many capacities in the Church, including in Young Women’s presidencies, Relief Society Presidencies, and music positions. She also served a church service mission with Homer at the Bishop’s Storehouse for nearly two years and served as a temple worker in the Boise Temple for about two years.
After their mission in the Bishop’s Storehouse ended, Mary wanted to continue to serve people in the Boise area and moved her quilting operation to full speed. She developed a system to create many quilts in a relatively short period of time. After a couple of years, she averaged 250 to 300 quilts per year, in a variety of sizes. She believed in not wasting any fabric, using even the smallest scraps in crazy quilts and small pieces of batting to stuff pillows. She gave away nearly every quilt she made, either to family or friends. Most notably, she anonymously donated hundreds of quilts to the Humanitarian Aid of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other local charities. Many lives have been warmed by her loving handiwork and generous donations.
Mary was known to her family and friends as one who quietly and humbly served those around her. She would freely share her talents and gifts, often holding classes and one-on-one training for sewing, quilting and other handicrafts. She would be one of the first to show up with a warm dish and a kind word. She never wanted recognition for her service; she just wanted to share her love.
Mary was also a woman of great faith in her Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. She had a deep testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ and loved serving in the Church. She was especially proud of her time as a missionary in the Bishops Storehouse and her time working in the temple. Even as the years took away her energy, she served faithfully as a visiting teacher and in any other capacity she was able.
Mary was a loving wife to Homer for 71 years. Their love deepened over the years and is a tremendous example to their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Homer is looking forward to spending eternity with Mary.
Mary is survived by her husband Homer Barnes and her eight children, Richard, Patricia (Patti) Barnes Bowman, Gary, Fred, Carl, Teresa Barnes Purvis, Thomas and Michael, and their spouses. They also have 14 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. Mary is greatly missed by her family.
The service will be held Saturday, September 18 (details below) and will be livestreamed through Zoom for those not able to attend in person.
To access Zoom, click on link found below under "Service":
Meeting ID: 927 9323 8449