I was saddened to hear that my friend of a quarter-century, Jane Barnett, passed away this morning after a very long battle with cancer. Jane was a leader of conservatives. There is no way to really walk you through all the many roles that she played over the years in advancing the conservative and Republican causes. I will say this — if there were Academy Awards for politics, she would have won so many, and in so many categories. Best Actress for her role as Chairman of the Los Angeles County GOP, and as a candidate, herself, for State Assembly. And many Best Supporting Actress nods for so many roles with so many causes, going back to her role(s) helping with the campaigns of Ronald Reagan, working for great politicians like Pat Nolan, Jim Rogan, Oliver North and others, working with the Boy Scouts, and so much more. Of course she is survived by her soul-mate and fellow conservative warrior Louis Wm. Barnett, seven children and at least eight grandchildren.
When I met Jane I was barely twenty years old and both she and Lou took on the role of mentoring me, and helping to guide a young, eager conservative activist in directions that would help me to grow as a person, and to maximize my ability to make a difference.
Over the years, our relationship evolved into a friendship that was, for both of us, one of mutual sharing and advice-giving. We all have those moments when we really seek counsel, and Jane was generous and spot-on with hers. When I was tapped to become Executive Director of the California Republican Party, I was overwhelmed (and that is understated). Jane was among a small group of people who really helped me with solid advice and real support (physical and emotional) during what was a long, intense few years.
Later on, I had the opportunity to be on the “giving” end of our relationship when she was elected to the Chairmanship of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County. When Jane called me for advice, my first thought was, “How do I give meaningful input to someone who taught me so much, and who knows so much more than I do?” But for anyone who knows Jane, one of her strengths was that everything for her was always a team effort, and she knew that she was a strong as the people around her. We spoke – a lot – and I like to think in some small ways I gave her some insights that were helpful in such a challenging endeavor. It was meaningful for me to be able to “give” to someone who spent so much of her time doing the giving herself.
Jane, I will miss you, as will so many others who benefited from knowing you. Your legacy is great, not only because of those seven children you lovingly raised, and their children and so forth. But because you spent your life dedicated to making the world around you a better place. You are in God’s arms now. We will all miss you so very, very much.
And a final word, to Lou. I know that it must be so very hard to lose Jane – your partner in so many ways and in so many things. Be comforted by her peace of mind as she neared the end, and embrace your family and the rest of us, your extended family, as you cope with this loss. There is a saying that life is the journey — and Jane lived hers to the fullest.
Requiescat in pace – rest in peace, Jane Barnett.