Nelson “Barney” Bliss January 14, 1944 – May 18, 2013
Nelson August “Barney” Bliss passed away on the evening of May 18, 2013, at the Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County in Rock Springs, Wyoming, after a long and often frustrating battle with illness. Barney was 69.
Barney was born in Roundup, Montana, on January 14, 1944, to Nelson August "Barney" Horning Sr. and Athna Nickolson. After the death of his birth father in World War II, he was adopted by his father William H. Bliss after William's marriage to Athna.
Barney attended schools in Roundup and Sumatra, Montana, and he graduated from Sumatra High School in 1962. His youth was filled with family, sports, hunting and fishing, and many of the wild adventures and exploits that are so familiar to small-town kids throughout the West. His family treasured his storytelling sessions, and will always remember his boisterous energy and infectious humor in the telling and re-telling of his favorite tales. He played basketball for the Sumatra Warriors and enjoyed fixing up, and then repeatedly wrecking, old Model A cars with his brothers and friends.
After high school, Barney attended Eastern Montana College for one year before enlisting in the United States Army in 1964. He was stationed in Germany as a part of the 7th Army until 1966, and subsequently served in the Army Reserve for two years.
After leaving the service, Barney began his career in the petroleum industry. Although he spent most of his life in Wyoming, he also worked in oilfields in Montana and New Mexico, and he traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada as a salesman, safety trainer, and on-site technician. He was particularly proud of the work he performed on location near the Denver International Airport, and even though he faced a series of daunting health obstacles, he continued to work hard until his retirement in May 2012.
On October 18th, 1968, Barney married Mildred Eleanor “Millie” Bliss in Roundup, Montana. Their marriage lasted for 44 years, and was filled with devotion, strength, and adventure. They raised their son Shawn and their daughter Wendy in the same way and with a large measure of understanding, humor, and pride.
Barney loved the great outdoors of Wyoming and was an avid fisherman. His family spent as much time as possible camping and fishing throughout the state, and he had a deep fondness for his stomping grounds in the Wind River and Bighorn mountains. One of his favorite things about working in the oilfield was driving long distances through wide-open spaces; he found beauty in sagebrush deserts and mountain meadows alike, and was most comfortable beside a reservoir or a trout stream.
Barney's other passions were his radio-controlled model airplanes. He built good planes, flew them well, and sometimes crashed them in spectacular and inventive ways. He was a central part of the R/C communities in Casper, Thermopolis, Rock Springs, and Farmington, New Mexico, where he was instrumental in creating a local aeromodeling club. He served in leadership positions in several clubs, and the Bliss garage was always christened “Barney's Hangar” and became a workshop and hangout for countless modelers over the years.
Barney was ornery, cantankerous, funny, and tough. He was also a quiet and thoughtful observer who could be introspective and philosophical. He loved country music, old Westerns, and working in the yard. He was an incredibly hard worker, a devoted husband and father, and a source of easy-going, good-natured humor to all who knew him. He loved his five grandchildren deeply and with total acceptance. He will be greatly missed by his friends and family.
Barney was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Alexander Nick Bliss. Barney is survived by his wife Millie Bliss of Rock Springs, Wyoming; his son and daughter-in-law Shawn and Lisa Bliss and his grandchildren Tenzin, Maya, and Aleah Bliss of Smithfield, Utah; his daughter and son-in-law Wendy and David Ortiz and his grandchildren Ellie and Sophie Ortiz of Grand Junction, Colorado; his brother Bill Bliss, and his sisters Janie Baird and Athna May Porter, all of Billings, Montana; and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Funeral arrangements are being made through the Vase Funeral Home in Rock Springs. A private memorial will be held at a future date for Barney's family and close friends. His family requests that donations be made to the American Diabetes Association.