Dean O. Barnum was a beloved professor at Kellogg Group Faculty, an avid ebook reader, a conservationist and a nature lover.
The Battle Creek native additionally quietly amassed a non-public fortune within the multimillions via savvy inventory investments and a frugal way of life.
By most measures, Barnum died a wealthy man.
When Barnum died in August 2020 at age 87, few knew the extent of his wealth and generosity. The trustee of his property and longtime good friend, Mike Rae, lately introduced that the unassuming Barnum had established three separate $1-million belief funds bequeathed to KCC, Willard Library and the Michigan United Conservation Golf equipment — the most important single donation in every group’s historical past.
“He knew what he wished to do with it,” Rae mentioned of Barnum. “He clearly understood the truth that he used the phrase legacy lots. He wished to make issues higher… He actually wished his group to thrive. He was a Battle Creek boy.”
Wealth of data
Barnum was born in Battle Creek in 1933, the second of 4 kids. His father was a pipefitter and outdoorsman, and whereas Dean gravitated to the latter, he did not be a part of his brothers in following of their father’s footsteps and changing into a tradesman.
Upon graduating from Battle Creek Central Excessive College in 1951, Barnum enlisted within the U.S. Military Reserves earlier than changing into the primary member of his speedy household to pursue greater schooling. He earned a bachelor’s diploma from Western Michigan College and a grasp’s diploma on the College of Michigan, finishing his doctoral work at Michigan State College earlier than shifting again residence together with his dad and mom and becoming a member of the school at Kellogg Group Faculty.
“Dean was very clever, very unassuming,” mentioned Susan Barnum, his niece. “He was by no means bragging and he did not act like he was so educated. He was type and pleasant, and would by no means act pompous. His of us have been poor after the (Nice) Despair and Dean grew up with a tough scenario, as many individuals did. It helped forge him into the person who regarded out for individuals in the neighborhood.”
Susan Barnum mentioned her uncle was engaged to be married at one level, however his fiancé died in a tragic car accident. Although he dated often, he by no means married.
“Within the Nineteen Sixties, he and my dad and a good friend had a inventory membership,” Susan recalled. “Both dad would go to grandpa and grandma and Dean’s (home), or they might come to our home as soon as every week to speak about shares and the best way to make investments.”
Dean Barnum labored at KCC for 23 years, instructing historical past and political science and serving as chair of the Social Science Division. He was additionally a member of the Historic Society of Michigan, the Michigan Training Affiliation, the Michigan United Conservation Membership, the Nationwide Training Affiliation and the Group of American Historians.
“He was a renaissance man,” Rae mentioned. “He was educated, brilliant, engaged, dedicated to serving to individuals. He was simply dedicated to creating issues higher.”
Liz Neumeyer, writer, native historian and KCC retiree, mentioned Barnum employed her which explains she got here to Battle Creek. She remembers her former colleague as being a strolling encyclopedia.
“He was brainy. He might do the New York Instances crossword puzzle in pen. He in all probability might have been on ‘Jeopardy!'” Neumeyer mentioned. “Dean was all the time good at investing, in all probability might have been a enterprise capitalist. He did not use his cash to purchase fancy automobiles or houses or something like that. He purchased books.”
Barnum was standard together with his college students. In 1967, he was chosen as Excellent Teacher by the KCC Scholar Senate. He loved journey, typically happening looking excursions together with his brother, and in 1976 he went on a sabbatical to go to 20 states to rejoice the U.S. bicentennial.
Susan Barnum mentioned her uncle was “eccentric” and was averse to utilizing computer systems, saying that contributed to his exit from KCC. He recorded all of his inventory exercise in topic notebooks.
Alongside together with his hobbies as an outdoorsman, chook watcher and conservationist, Barnum stayed energetic by taking part in handball and was a member of KCC’s “Noontime Basketball Affiliation,” for over 40 years, taking part in video games with present and retired college nicely into his 80s.
In keeping with Susan Barnum, her uncle lived modestly in his ultimate days, dwelling at his household residence in Battle Creek. He was cremated and buried within the household plot at Oak Hill Cemetery with no service.
“He simply lived merely till the tip,” Susan mentioned.
How will items be used?
Upon saying Barnum’s historic $1 million reward to the KCC Basis, which shall be used to create two scholarship funds, the college introduced that it had devoted the basketball courtroom inside Miller Gymnasium on Nov. 5 as “Dean O. Barnum Courtroom.”
The Michigan United Conservation Membership mentioned it intends to make use of $250,000 of its reward from Barnum to ascertain the out of doors motion and authorized protection fund to fight anti-hunting and anti-conservation initiatives, and $650,000 of the donation will go into the MUCC annual fund.
“With this donation, MUCC will be capable of assist educate the subsequent era of conservation stewards and be sure that Michiganders’ rights to hunt, fish and entice aren’t infringed upon sooner or later,” Amy Trotter, MUCC government director mentioned in a launch.
At Willard Library, the Barnum-Willard Belief was established to fund supplies and collections, programming, and facility and know-how upgrades. The reward is the most important within the 126-year historical past of the general public library, which is funded by a tax in perpetuity that was overwhelmingly authorized by voters in 2001.
Willard Library is renaming its native historical past archive “The Dean O. Barnum Native Historical past Archive” in recognition of Barnum’s dedication to preserving historical past within the area. The library can be renaming its open-air amphitheater on the Helen Warner Department, the place summer time packages are held, as “The Dean O. Barnum Amphitheater.”
Cathy Lucas, director of Willard Library, mentioned the historic reward will assist others like Dean Barnum who thirst for information and journey.
“This enables us to do some issues we would not be capable of do in any other case,” Lucas mentioned. “We’re simply actually grateful to Dean Barnum and his dedication to the group in permitting us extra creativity.”
Contact reporter Nick Buckley at [email protected] or 269-966-0652. Comply with him on Twitter:@NickJBuckley