OBIT: Theodore Barna
Barna, former chemist, community volunteer
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Theodore M. Barna, a laboratory chemist who overcame daunting health problems and in retirement became a volunteer at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and elsewhere, died Wednesday in a Houston hospital. He was 97.
"He retired early in the early 1970s and had colon cancer, a kidney problem and later an aortic aneurysm. He shrugged these off and lived another 30 years," said his son Joel Warren Barna of Austin. The malignancy never recurred, his son said.
Barna also did volunteer work at the International Seamen's Center and at Casa de Esperanza de los Niños, a refuge for children who have been abused or neglected or are HIV positive. In addition, Barna was a literacy tutor for youngsters in his neighborhood, his son said.
A native of Port Reading, N.J., Theodore Matthew Barna was born Sept. 24, 1910, the son of Andrew and Anna Deliman Barna. In 1934, he graduated from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
In the 1940s in Houston, Barna landed a job as a laboratory chemist with Diamond Alkali Co., which later became Diamond Shamrock Co.
After he retired, he began volunteering at M.D. Anderson.
"When they discovered he was a trained chemist, he went to work for the (Anderson) cancer research laboratory. Basically, he worked until he couldn't drive anymore," Joel Barna said.
"He was really someone who cared about the community and was generous and kind in his dealings with everyone. He was shy and not outgoing. On the other hand, he enjoyed knowing that he was making a difference for other people. He also was a warm and supporting and caring father and grandfather," his son said.
Barna's wife of 72 years, Dorothy Ruth Taylor Barna, died in 2007.
In addition to his son Joel, survivors include his sister, Irene Van Tassel of South Amboy, N.J.; daughters Trudy Barna-Lloyd of Cleveland, and Joan Barna Marik of Bellaire; another son, Theodore Keith Barna of Frederick, Md.; and a daughter-in-law, Patty Barna Camp of Friendswood.
A funeral Mass was scheduled for 10 a.m. today at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, 6800 Buffalo Speedway.