The MMA community is mourning the loss of alumnus and philanthropist Leslie C. Barnard ’48, of Flossmoor, Ill., who passed away on July 12. The students participating in MMA’s summer camp and school took a moment during dinner Thursday evening to remember a man they’ve never met – but whose legacy is present all around them.
Les Barnard attended Missouri Military Academy from 1945 until he graduated in 1948. He long remembered his time at Missouri Military Academy as a transformative experience and attributed his success as an entrepreneur to his MMA education. He was prosperous in the construction, real estate and hotel industries.
At MMA, he was widely respected by his classmates, the board of trustees, staff and faculty as a kind man of excellent character. Mr. Barnard was a loving husband to his wife, Joanne, a proud father of children Nancy Barnard Knox, Stephen Barnard and Ross Barnard, and a grandfather to their children.
Mr. Barnard was a lifelong supporter of Missouri Military Academy. Former Missouri Military Academy president and chairman of the board, Charles R. Stribling III ’44, remembers Mr. Barnard as an “incredibly loyal” alumnus who was among the first to step up and serve the MMA Alumni Association when it was revived sometime after World War II. He served as the Association president in the 1950s.
In 2009, he decided to make the gift of a lifetime, contributing $3 million to construct MMA’s academic building, which was named Barnard Hall in his honor. A modern, state-of-the-art facility that transformed the way MMA cadets learn, Barnard Hall was the first LEED-certified high school constructed in the state of Missouri.
Mr. Barnard’s gift remains the largest single contribution in Missouri Military Academy history. He found tremendous personal gratification from philanthropy, and once mentioned that he considered the dedication of Barnard Hall among the best moments in his life. In his public remarks during the dedication, he encouraged those in attendance to experience the great feeling that comes from philanthropic contribution.
In many ways, Barnard Hall is a symbol of Les himself: Elegant. Innovative. Welcoming. Supportive of a cadet’s ability to learn and grow. And in those walls, his spirit lives on at Missouri Military Academy.
Other members of the MMA community shared their thoughts about Les Barnard:
“Les will always be remembered as not only an accomplished cadet and later a highly successful businessman, but also as one of the Academy’s most generous benefactors and philanthropists. His vision and support in spearheading the construction of Barnard Hall will leave a lasting imprint on MMA cadets for generations to come.” R. Stribling Koster, chairman of the MMA board of trustees
“Generous is not even enough. He truly loved the school.” Ron Kelly, MMA president, 1993-2007
“I am saddened to hear of Les Barnard’s passing. Saddened because he was a good friend and because he was a man of character who will be missed by many. Les was a successful entrepreneur who worked hard all his life and he always attributed his success to the values and lessons he learned at MMA. I’ll miss Les, so will many others.” – Robert M. Flanagan, USMC (Ret), MMA president, 2007-2012
“Due to the extraordinary generosity of one of MMA’s own, Les Barnard, we have an academic building that is conducive to the intellectual development of today’s youth. So many of our cadets will benefit from Barnard Hall for years to come.” – Francesco Giuseffi, MMA Dean of Academics
“Les was a good student at MMA, and a very good friend.” Classmate and close friend SMSgt Albert Brown USAF (Ret), MMA class of 1948
“I am very sad to hear this. Les was a great person. We will miss him tremendously.” Classmate Wallace Beckley ’48
“Les and his wife Joanne have truly been transformational figures at MMA. Their commitment to the institution and its Cadets is manifest in the beautiful state of the art Barnard Hall which serves each Cadet and members of our faculty and staff every day. We will all truly miss this wonderful son of MMA.” – Charles A. “Tony” McGeorge, current MMA president