SIDNEY — Many scholarship funds are in place to assist students after high school. Just over 50 years ago the will of a former local educator established a different approach to the same goal. Raeburn (Epler) Barnes (SHS 1892), widow of Judge Joseph Barnes (SHS 1888/HoH 2003), worked with her attorney to establish a loan fund with a dynamic business model that would allow major expansion over time while providing recipients with more ownership of their education as they paid back their loans and provided the same opportunity to others.
On Friday, April 20, 2018, Mrs. Barnes will be joined by a trio of 20th-century Sidney High graduates to form the 25th induction class of the Sidney City Schools Hall of Honor. The 7 p.m. auditorium ceremony will be followed by a gymnasium reception with both events open to the public at Sidney High School. Raeburn will be joined by Ardiss Willman Luce (SHS 1967), Richard R. Rediske (SHS 1970), and Mike Herbert (SHS/JVS 1985) as membership increases to 127.
Raeburn Epler had a brief teaching career in Shelby County but that was short lived due to an archaic custom/regulation of that era. When she married Joseph Barnes in 1899, that meant Raeburn could no longer teach. Women also had minimal societal roles but she was able to become active in hospital, church and educational causes as the wife of a prominent attorney and longtime judge. They had no children of their own and filled that void by supporting local youth in general.
The couple envisioned assisting educational endeavors through estate planning. She survived him by almost two decades. Upon her death in 1964, her will established the Raeburn E. Barnes Trust. The designated process allowed the program to begin loaning funds to Sidney and Shelby County graduates in late 1983. Since then over 2,500 students have been assisted with almost $18 million. During the most recent full academic year, over $1 million of new loans were initiated. Over $5 million are currently on loan. The Barnes Trust is overseen by three trustees and marketed/administered by liaisons to each of the high schools and colleges with Shelby County students. The Barnes Trust website tells the full story and process.
Raeburn E. Barnes is the first member of the 1892 SHS graduating class to join the Hall. However, Dr. Clyde Fisher (HoH 2002), “Father of American Astronomy,” is also an 1892 grad but he did so from Orange Township before it was absorbed into the Sidney schools.