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Home » Campus News Latest » Obituaries » James A. Barnes, Former Staff

Born Oct. 1, 1946, James A. Barnes of Ashland, OH, passed away on May 8, 2021, in his home with his family by his side.

He was born in Moline, Illinois, the son of the late George and Betty (nee Rottier) Barnes.

Upon graduating from Moline High School, Class of 1966, he proudly served in the United States Army where he earned a good conduct medal and national defense service medal. He was a courier throughout Europe during the Vietnam Conflict. Jim was honorably discharged in May of 1969 and afterwards, spent time traveling & exploring Europe.

He went on to further his education and earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Western Illinois University where he was president of the Veteran’s Club. Jim spent more than 40 years on college and university campuses as a student, business manager and Vice President.

Jim moved to Ashland in 1985 to begin his career at Ashland University having been previously been employed at Antioch College and Robert Morris College.

Jim married the former Becky A. Bingham on July 23, 1988.

In 2009, Jim retired after 25 years from Ashland University where he served as Vice President of Business Affairs. During his tenure he helped to grow a small liberal arts college to a comprehensive university serving more than 6,000 students. While at Ashland, he was an integral part of the creation of 8 new buildings and the innovative programs under his direction received national recognition.

Throughout his career, Jim was involved in numerous professional organizations and boards. A devoted member of CACUBO, Central Association of College and University Business Officers, he served as editor of the newsletter through 1994, President of the organization, and was the 1992 recipient of the President’s Award.

Jim was very passionate about the Ashland community. He was the inaugural recipient of the “Spirit of the Chamber” award by the Ashland Chamber of Commerce in 1993 ; and the Purple Pride Award recipient in both 1999 and 2000 for his leadership of the AU Eagler Golf outing, which he proudly coordinated for 13 years. He was an advocate & fan of all AU Athletics.

In his life, Jim enjoyed travel, golfing at some of the most esteemed courses around the world especially if it included one of his famed hole-in-ones, his signature two-toned saddle shoes and had an affinity for antiques and collecting unique treasures.

He is survived by his loving wife of 32 years, Becky Barnes of Ashland; his beloved daughter, Anna Kathryn Smith Barnes (Dave Olinger) of Stamford, Connecticut; one sister, Barbara (David) Vershaw of Texarkana, Texas; two brothers-in-law, Michael Bingham and Douglas (Sherri) Bingham; and nieces and nephews, Jim Vershaw and David (Lisa) Vershaw, and Lacey Bingham and Morgan (Michael) Gallemore.

In addition to his parents, Jim is preceded in death by a nephew, Peter Vershaw.

A Celebration of Jim’s life will be held later this year. Interment will take place in the Ashland Cemetery.

The family is eternally grateful for the unwavering support and care from our team from Hospice North Central Ohio and also, Jim’s trusted companion, during his courageous fight.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the James A. Barnes Memorial Fund via

Online condolences may be shared on the funeral home’s website at

Denbow-Gasche Funeral Home & Crematory is honored to be handling the arrangements of James A. Barnes.