Retired Chief of Police served community in many capacities
DEL NORTE — Barney Bliss Black (BBB), 91, affectionately known in his law enforcement days as “Blackie,” died of natural causes Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012 at the Rio Grande Hospital, following an extended illness. Barney was born Aug. 22, 1920 in Holbrook, Ariz., to Warden Ray Sr. and Edna Earle Bliss Black.
He was the youngest of eight children of which included a three-year-old young man his parents raised. Barney was the last remaining sibling of his family.
Barney was raised in Del Norte and the Summitville area.
His parents owned and operated numerous sawmills in the mountains surrounding Summitville and Myers Creek.
Barney graduated from Del Norte High School in 1939 and entered the Navy in 1942, serving in the Asiatic Pacific arena, including Iwo Jima and Pearl Harbor. He was honorably discharged in 1945.
He and Freeda Allen were pen pals during the war and married on Jan. 9, 1946 in Wilmer, Texas. Freeda’s brother had married Barney’s sister. Barney and Freeda moved to Del Norte, where their children were born and raised.
Barney retired from the Del Norte Police Department after 26 years of faithful service. He then began a career with the Del Norte School District, retiring from there in 1989. During his time after retirement he was elected Mayor of the Town of Del Norte, serving from 1988 to 1992. Barney and Freeda served proudly as the Grand Marshals for a Covered Wagon Days Parade.
With his family, Barney passionately enjoyed the great out-of-doors, Jeeping in the mountains, hunting, fishing and camping.
During retirement, he and his good friend, Don Richardson, enjoyed mountain motorcycling and snowmobiling around Del Norte.
For years, Barney was the chief of police, town manager and maintenance supervisor, overseeing the streets, water and sewer department for the town of Del Norte, as well as the ambulance when it was handled through the Town.
For years, Barney also had the emergency telephone located in his home for the Police Department as a part of his duties. A call came in, a light over the highway intersection at Grande and Pine was turned on, the officer called and got the information, then handled the call. He also used his personal vehicles for search and rescue to aid in that need.
His chief passion for years was law enforcement. He was a founding member of the San Luis Valley Peace Officers Association, which was originally started for law enforcement to share information on crimes in the San Luis Valley to aid in helping to solve crimes.
It ended up being a precursor to the CBI and FBI computer systems that are used today. He enjoyed helping many people over the 26 years as Del Norte’s Police Chief.
His extended family included many law enforcement friends and their families that he and Freeda cherished and invited into their home for many meals: Charlie Fouquet, Johnny Vess, Jack Pace, Bob Copley, Terry Blackmon, Alva Moore, Virgil Kintz, Doug Johnson, Bill Esterbrook, Forest Robran, Bill Lobato and Lee Ruark, just to name a few. Other close friends associated with his career included Carl Phillips, Bill Smyth, Richard and Betty Conour, Eugene Farish and many other members of the community that are probably missing but never forgotten.
Barney is survived by his wife Freeda Allen Black of the family home in Del Norte. They were married 66 wonderful years of which he was so proud, commenting on that fact on his death bed.
He is also survived by five children. The boys, who all live in the Del Norte area, Richard (Colleen) Black, Ken (Alice) Black, Kelly (Kathy) Black; daughters, Patsy Black Moreland of Durango and Robin (Craig) Hargis of Green River, Wyo.; eight grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews of Barney’s siblings. Services will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, at the Pioneer United Church, with graveside services, police and full military honors following at the Del Norte Cemetery. Refreshments will be served at the church immediately following the graveside services.
Arrangements are being handled by Rusty Strohmayer at Strohmayer’s Funeral Home and memorial contributions on Barney’s behalf may be made to the San Luis Valley Peace Officer’s Association, as well as the Rio Grande Hospital, in lieu of flowers if anyone would prefer.
Please send them to Strohmayer’s at P.O. Box 142, Monte Vista, Colorado 81144.
The family thanks all of the friends and family who are remembering Barney as well as those who were important to him in his life.