Frederick County lost one of its
colorful personalities as well as a
longtime public servant with the death
Tuesday of Don "The Singing Sheriff"
Barnes, a former county sheriff and
country music artist.
Barnes died after collapsing at his
home in New Market . He was 68 years
Barnes served two terms as Frederick
County sheriff, from 1974 to 1982,
calling himself the "architect" of the
sheriff's office. Barnes was named
Sheriff of the Year in 1978 by the
Maryland State Sheriff's Association. At
the time of his election he was 32, the
youngest sheriff ever elected in
Barnes ran again unsuccessfully in
1986. He also launched an unsuccessful
bid for the Maryland House of Delegates
Barnes fronted a country-western band
called the Countrymen, which recorded a
few albums and earned Barnes his
nickname. He continued to perform in
recent years with musicians at area
"Anyone who came in contact with Don
immediately liked him," said longtime
friend and local radio host Tommy
Grunwell. "He gave his heart to
everyone. It's just a shock."
According to Allan Brown, Barnes'
friend for 50 years and a former
Countrymen band mate, the Singing
Sheriff will be remembered as a good man
and an effective public servant.
"He had a great sense of humor,"
Brown said. "He was a very compassionate
person and a very generous person. He
was just an all-around great guy."
Brown said Barnes will be remembered
as a sheriff who helped modernize the
department and made it what it is today.
He also cited Barnes' work with the
Maryland Sheriff's Youth Ranch, a
service that provides foster care as
well as guidance and support to at-risk
boys between the ages of 10 and 18.
Barnes was instrumental in bringing the
Youth Ranch to Frederick County.
"I told (Frederick County Sheriff)
Chuck Jenkins that in many ways they
have Don to thank for making their jobs
easier today," Brown said. "He brought
the sheriff's department out of
Barnes graduated from the Maryland
State Police Academy in 1963. He
received training in police work and
arson investigation at the University of
Southern California National Sheriff's
Institute, the Penn State Police
Academy, Frederick Community College,
and the College of William and Mary.
After serving more than six years
with the Maryland State Police, he
joined the Maryland Fire Marshall's
office as an investigator in 1969, a
position he held until he was elected
Frederick County sheriff.
Born Sept. 4, 1941, in Cumberland,
Barnes lived in Frederick County since
moving to Mount Pleasant in 1964.
He is survived by his wife, Debbie
Williams Barnes; two children, three
stepchildren, six grandchildren and