R.I.P. Don Barnhart
Esteemed television director, Don Lewis Barnhart, called it "A Wrap" Oct. 3, 2016, succumbing to medical complications due to heart attack and stroke. Don spent his life in show biz beginning his long career as a radio personality in northern California and the northwest. He moved on to television and worked as a stage manager, assistant director and director. As an assistant director, he worked on many television specials featuring Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra and Ringo Starr. He logged over 1,000 hours on the daytime drama General Hospital and never called in sick. His additional film AD work includes Mc Cloud, The Bionic Woman and Beretta. Don's directing credits include, Mork and Mindy (directing Robin Williams and Jonathan Winters in the same scenes required several cups of cappuccino macchiato to keep up with them), Benson, Full House and Hardknocks. He also directed 85 episodes of the syndicated series, Comedy Break and a three-hour live network show entitled "Celebrate America."
Don also had the privilege of directing eight seasons of the extremely popular NBC Network teenage series, Saved By The Bell and the NBC Movie of the Week, "Saved By The Bell Hawaiian Style" and three seasons of California Dreams. Don traveled to Montreal, Canada, to direct multiple episodes of Fox's popular teenage show, Student Bodies. Don recently finished his 12th year of directing the annual "Meet The Nominees" for the Director's Guild of America and in 1996 received the prestigious Franklin J. Schaffner Award. In recent years, Don turned to writing and published four novels. He also returned to radio with his weekly program, Bring It On With Barnhart featured on internet radio where he shared stories from his career, interviewed celebrities and old friends and shared his take on the craziness of the world.
So, now you know what he accomplished. But, who was he? Don was raised by parents with a strong work ethic, a sense of humor and values of honesty, generosity and punctuality. All of these traits served Don well in his lifetime. He encouraged (sometimes nagged) people to make the most of their talent. He used his wicked sense of humor to break tension, to bring perspective to a situation, and sometimes to just have a good laugh. He used to bet his brother-in-law a cup of coffee that he could walk up to a complete stranger, engage them in a short conversation and make them laugh. He always won the bet. He liked people. He believed in honesty and integrity. He had no tolerance for lies. He shared his resources with several charities and met needs whenever he could.
Don bought his first car at age 16 and belonged to "The Jacks" car club, where he was the youngest member and the only one with a curfew. He faced mom and dad many times after arriving home after curfew. Fortunately, the punctuality trait kicked in when he started working. Don could be difficult when he was passionately committed to an issue but was also very adept at dealing with difficult personalities and smoothing a way to resolution. He enjoyed a good glass of wine, a good cigar and a good meal. Don was a man of faith and began each morning with devotional time he called, "Coffee with the Lord." While in the hospital, Don kept his sense of humor during his illness always "looking for the funny," telling jokes and teasing the medical staff who cared for him. They all said it was a pleasure taking care of him and he made their job so much easier. Don died at peace, believing in God's grace, mercy and forgiveness. He was surrounded by loved ones as he stepped into eternity.
He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Don Barhart Jr. and Linda Vu; his sister and brother-in-law, Bonnie and Mike Dalton; and many relatives and friends. His beloved Poodle, Jack, has found a new loving home to live out his remaining years without "Popi." At Don's request, there is no funeral service. If you wish to honor him, the family requests that you do a planned act of kindness for someone. To quote Don, "It is better to wear out than rust. See you on the other side."