Colonel Ken Barnes: Trinidadian-born military leader and father of the footballer John Barnes

When you have been among your country's leading performers and administrators in several sports for more than four decades, inspired a hugely popular film and led the forces of several nations in a successful military operation, it must be quite tough to be remembered primarily for being the father of your even better-known son. That is the lot which befell Ken Barnes. He was the father of John Barnes, the former England footballer currently in charge of Jamaica's celebrated national side, the "Reggae Boyz", and was so much more besides.

Roderick Kenrick Barnes, who was born on 23 August 1935 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, came to Jamaica as a member of the West India Regiment in 1956. He joined the Jamaica Defence Force when it was formed after the island attained independence in 1962, and remained in the Army until he retired in 1989. Barnes was initially commanding officer of the 1st Battalion Jamaica Regiment, and in 1973 was promoted to colonel.

In October 1983, radical elements in the administration in Grenada overthrew and murdered Maurice Bishop, that island's left-leaning prime minister, and several of his cabinet colleagues. The US president, Ronald Reagan, was persuaded by some of the more right-wing governments in the region, not least that of Edward Seaga in Jamaica, to intervene to prevent the disturbance from spreading throughout the Caribbean. Barnes led the combined Caribbean Security Forces in the operation which put down the coup and "restored Grenada to democracy" with the minimum of fuss.

Captain Horace Burrell, the president of the Jamaica Football Federation, served with Barnes both before and during the action in Grenada. He has described Barnes as being his mentor, in matters both military and sporting, and remembers him for being an "officer and a gentleman".

For Barnes, his involvement with the army and with sports – he was initially the army's sports officer – went hand in hand. For many years, he was chairman of the JDF Sports Board and the JDF Officers' Club. He played for and the Jamaican national football team in the 1950s, later becoming captain) and eventually manager. After having had two girls already with his wife, Jeanne, when their third child, a boy [John], was born, his wife placed a tiny football in his cot in the hope that he would become the son his father really wanted. Fortunately, Barnes Snr lived long enough to enjoy John's illustrious career.

Barnes's influence extended far beyond the football field. His reputation as an administrator was such that his services were in demand by a number of sports. He became president of the Jamaica Boxing Board of Control, president of the Swimming Association of Jamaica, and was also manager of the Liguanea Squash Club.

Perhaps Barnes's most incongruous contribution to his country's sport was his part in setting up the island's bobsleigh team. It is said that George Fitch and William Maloney, two Americans, considered that Jamaicans would be good bobsledders because their renowned sprinting ability would give them good lead-off speed. When Jamaican athletes showed little interest, Fitch and Maloney turned to Barnes for advice. As a result, the Jamaican national bobsleigh team, which drew from military personnel, proved to be a sensation. They finished 14th at the Winter Olympic Games at Calgary, Canada in 1988, inspiring the popular film Cool Runnings.

Ken Barnes was diagnosed with prostate cancer in late 2006. During his illness, he lost much weight and in the words of Jeanne, his wife of 48 years, he was weak because his body could no longer support his spirit.

Roderick Kenrick Barnes, military leader and sports administrator: born Port of Spain, Trinidad, 23 August 1935; married Jeanne (one son, two daughters); died St Andrew, Jamaica 19 February 2009.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Systems Developer Technical Lead

£65000 - £70000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Energy Engineer

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy En...

Sales Representative, Leicester

£25-£30k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major well established nationwide market...

Sales Representative, Birmingham

£25-£30k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major well established nationwide market...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment