This past week one of my good friends, Barney Stallworth, passed away.
I became friends with Barney through my involvement in Rotary. He was one of those kinds of people you immediately take a liking to, easygoing and witty.
We had a couple of things in common: we both liked to talk and we both liked to fish.
Back when I met Barney, I had a weekly radio program on WGWD 93.3 (old country) called “Back Country Roads.” I had Barney on that program a couple of times.
Barney was a retired Florida Highway Patrolman. Most folks knew him best as “The Nose,” for his exploits busting drug runners on our highways.
We had some interesting discussions about his years on the patrol. His show got a lot of response from the listeners, by the way.
One of his true stories is in the Floridan mystery series about the Texas state trooper.
I have many stories Barney told me, and I’ll probably run one in this column in the near future.
He was born in Calhoun County and was raised in Liberty County. He went into the Navy during the Korean War and came home to eventually work at the Tallahassee Police Department. That job led him to the Florida Highway Patrol.
My cousin, A.D. Cosson (Troop Commander), also worked with the FHP and, ironically, they knew each other.
Barney had a lot of friends and one of the most interesting lives of anyone I have known. He was a good friend to me, and we had many enjoyable outings, from fishing trips to just sitting in the den or the deck talking.
He had been dealing with problems for the last couple of years, which hindered his ability to get around. So we made a couple of trips together to fish fries and hung out with our buddies.
I often talked with him on the phone. Unfortunately, my last conversation in person with Barney was shortly after he had found out he had terminal cancer.
Hospice was coming in daily and, thankfully, he felt well enough to have me visit. We sat and talked as we had done 100 times before and he said something that I think says a lot about him.
“I’ve had a good life. I’ve done a lot of things that I’m proud of and I’m ready to go,” he told me.
That is a profound statement.
Barney lived a good life. He found a soulmate in his wife Joan. She, by the way, introduced my soulmate, Bev, to me.
I am so glad that I met Barney and that he was part of my life. He will be missed, but I am 100 percent satisfied he is catching up with loved ones, old friends, finding the best fishing holes and maybe even playing a round of golf that he has missed so much these last few years.
Byron Spires is a retired newspaper editor. He has written dozens of short stories and serials in the Havana Herald. He recently published “The Curious Life of Marci Bell” in a series of three books. You can email him at email@example.com.