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Beloved Bermudan Johnny Barnes has passed away.
A long-standing figure on the island of Bermuda, Barnes was known for greeting residents and visitors with a warm "I Love You!" For more than 50 years, Barnes was a daily fixture at the Crow Lane roundabout in the middle of the island, sitting on a bench and waving to all who passed. Visitors came from around the world to meet the man who felt called to share a message of love with everyone, every day.
"Johnny Barnes personified the NAD top priority of Transformational Evangelism," says Ken Denslow, assistant to the president for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America (NAD). Denslow was one of several church leaders who attended Barnes' funeral. He recalls the first time he met the famous Bermudan and asked how Barnes could do the same thing for so many years. Barnes responded: "God has something for everyone to do."
The iconic Barnes played a key role in helping make the Seventh-day Adventist Church a fixture on the small island located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. A statue of Barnes in his familiar waving pose was raised by local business owners to honor his role in spreading the image of a warm and friendly culture with visitors from all around the world. Tens of thousands received his cheerful greeting, wave, and smile.
Ninety-three years of age, Barnes recently had to stop his daily greetings because of failing health. He passed away early on the morning of July 9 from natural causes. Belvina, his wife of 65 years, was at his side.
On July 18, Bermuda said goodbye to Barnes with a regal funeral in tribute to “Mr. Happy." Many wore bright colors in keeping with Barnes' wishes as they lined the funeral procession's way.
"Through the simple acts of smiling, waving and assuring people that they are loved, Johnny meaningfully impacted many thousands of lives," says Denslow. "The people who lined the route of his funeral procession gave testimony to the impact of simple acts of kindness."
In 2015, the NAD featured Barnes in its division video report; click here to watch. Read "Bermuda Bids Farewell to Iconic Barnes," from The Royal Gazette for more details.