Mary Margaret ‘Tomi’ Barney (Age 100!)
Mary Margaret “Tomi” Barney was born Dec. 12, 1917, in Bayfield, Wis., to Fred and Frances Thomas, both recent immigrants from Croatia. Tomi passed away Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018.
Tomi’s family, including older sister Ann and younger brother Fred, moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in 1921. She attended Roosevelt Elementary School in Coeur d’Alene, followed by the Immaculate Conception School and then Coeur d’Alene High School, graduating in 1935. It was during her years as a “Viking” that her friends started calling her Tomi (from Thomas), a name that stuck the rest of her life. After high school, Tomi attended Kinman Business School, in Spokane, which earned her a secretarial position at the Ford Motor Dealership (Elliot Motors) making $25 per month.
It was in Coeur d’Alene that Tomi met the love of her life, Verne Barney, a salesman for the Washington Water Power Company, whom she married at St. Thomas Catholic Church on July 2, 1940. Tomi and Verne had two children: Pat, who was born in Coeur d’Alene in 1941, and Jim, born in Seattle in 1945, while Verne was working for Boeing on the B-29 project. Tomi and family moved to Colville, Wash. in 1949 when they bought an appliance store, which they named Barney’s City Electric. Barney’s motto was, “we sell the best and service the rest!” Tomi and Verne remained in Colville for 51 years.
Tomi was involved in many organizations, dedicating much of her work to the Republican Party. She was elected president of the Federation of Republican Women for the state of Washington. She attended Republican conventions in Miami in 1968 and Detroit in 1980, when her hero, Ronald Reagan, was nominated for president. She was also a 52-year member of the PEO, a philanthropic organization for promoting educational opportunities for women.
Tomi and Verne celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary renewing their vows at St. Thomas Church in Coeur d’Alene, and spending the night in The Coeur d’Alene Resort bridal suite. With the bottles of champagne, flowers everywhere, mirrors on the ceiling and beautiful views of the lake, Barney remarked, “I hope we can do it justice!”
Tomi was a huge Zags fan, with five family members receiving degrees from Gonzaga. She was honored at her last Gonzaga game on Dec. 18, which was nationally televised, with a tribute from Dan Dickau for her longtime support and announcing her 100th birthday.
Tomi was predeceased by Verne Barney, her husband of 60 years. She is survived by daughter Pat Davis and husband Don; son Jim Barney and wife Nancy; six grandchildren, Kevin (Kellie), Jeff and Chris Mullin, Shannon (Patrick) Daminano, Traci (Frank) Matheus and Keith (Mandy) Barney; and 12 great-grandchildren, Jacob, Hunter and Kaitlinn Mullin, Samantha, Rachel and Gianna Damiano, Megan and Brian Mullin, Katelyn and Frankie Matheus and Henry and Evelyn Barney. Tomi was known to the grandchildren as “Mamama” when her first grandchild, Kevin, couldn’t pronounce grandma, so he just added one more “ma” to “mama” and “Mamama” became her name.
Tomi was a wonderful inspiration to her family and friends for her spirit, her positive attitude and her toughness — long before the official women’s movement (you don’t get to 100 being a wimp!) Her husband, Verne, always said, “there will never be another one like her.” And he was absolutely right!
The family would like to thank Emilie Court and their terrific staff for the wonderful care for Mom over her two-year residency. We also want to extend our thanks to Horizon Hospice, which came to our assistance during the last month of Mom’s life. Both Emilie Court and Horizon were amazing in their care for Mom.
A Rosary will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, 2018, at Emilie Court Assisted Living, 34 E. Eighth Ave., Spokane, Wash. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 10, 2018, at St. Peter Catholic Parish, 3520 E. 18th Ave., Spokane, Wash., followed by a reception. Donations can be made in her name to Emilie Court Assisted Living, 34 E. 8th, Spokane, WA 99202, or Horizon Hospice Care, 123 W. Cascade Way, Spokane, WA 99208.