Statement on the passing of former Metro Board Member Cleatus E. Barnett
Served on Board of Directors for 32 years
Former Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Board Member Cleatus E. Barnett died on August 11, 2010, in Pensacola, Florida. He was 83-years-old. Mr. Barnett served on the Metro Board of Directors for 32 years, including five terms as Chairman of the Board. Mr. Barnett was often referred to as one of the “founding fathers” of the Metrorail system. He was a Metro Board member before there were any trains to run.
Mr. Barnett was appointed to the WMATA Board of Directors in 1971 as a member representing the State of Maryland. He retired from the Board in June 2003. He served as Chairman in 1974, 1980, 1986, 1992 and 1998. Upon his retirement, the Metro Board of Directors officially renamed the Board’s meeting room “The Cleatus E. Barnett Board Room” in his honor. A plaque with Mr. Barnett’s photo was placed at the entrance to the room, where it remains today.
“We are sorry to learn of the passing of Cleatus Barnett, one of the founding fathers of the Metrorail system and a true public servant dedicated to improving transportation in this region. Our hearts go out to his wife, Doris, his children, grandchildren and siblings. He was a major contributor to the building of Metrorail from its concept to a thriving and proud system and was responsible for many of the benefits that it brought to our region. He also was a supporter of the Metrobus system, which stretches deep into neighborhoods where rails do not exist,” said Metro Board Chairman Peter Benjamin.
Mr. Barnett, who was born on May 22, 1927, near White Plains, Kentucky, served on the WMATA Board of Directors from Montgomery County, Maryland, for more than three decades during which time WMATA acquired and operated the regional Metrobus system and Metrorail evolved from a concept of lines on a map to a more than 100-mile rail system.
Upon his retirement from the WMATA Board of Directors, The Washington Post ran an editorial praising his service. The editorial stated, “. . . in the eyes of his colleagues in the world of transit, Mr. Barnett . . . is recognized and respected as a major force in the birth and growth of ‘America’s Subway.’” The editorial went on to state, “Soft-spoken but tenacious in his desire to help produce first-class subway service for the region, Mr. Barnett displays an attention to detail—from footnotes in the budgets to spare parts in the storerooms—that is legendary.”
Donations in Mr. Barnett's memory may be made to the library fund of First Presbyterian Church, 33 East Gregory Street; Pensacola, FL 32502; the Salvation Army, P.O. Box 18569, Pensacola, FL 32523-8569; or The Waterfront Rescue Mission, P.O. Box 870, Pensacola, FL 32591.
People can also leave a note of remembrance online.
News release issued at 3:15 pm, August 16, 2010.