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Couple’s altruism touches many in Northwest Indiana

John and Ann Barney to be honored at IU Northwest’s Chancellor’s Medallion Celebration

Monday Nov 06, 2017

John and Ann Barney of Crown Point both have very individual reasons for giving back to their communities, their local universities, and to the folks who face obstacles in their lives.

Ann is a native of Gary who worked her way through college, struggling to avoid graduating with a mountain of debt. John, originally from Indianapolis, credits his parents with instilling in him an acute sense of altruism.

Put these two together, combine it with a personal connection to Indiana University, and the result is a loyal lifelong friend for which IU and IU Northwest are extraordinarily grateful.

In gratitude for their enduring support of IU Northwest, leaders at IU Northwest will present the Barneys with the university’s highest honor, The Chancellor’s Medallion, on November 16.

The honor comes the same year as the Barney’s 50th wedding anniversary, and considering the couple first met on their very first day of classes together at IU, it is a perfect year to celebrate their commitment to IU and IU Northwest.

A life of success, and service

As chairman and CEO of Barney Enterprises, John oversees the management of 11 Wendy’s restaurants, serves as a co-developer for student housing developments, an imaging center and co-operates a heating company, among other pursuits.

Ann became a teacher and worked at Miller Elementary School in Merrillville until the birth of their two daughters. She continued to be active in her church and various school committees, all the while passing on her philanthropic spirit to Julie and Kathleen, also strong leaders who also hold leadership roles in their community endeavors. 

The Barney businesses span Northwest Indiana. Hence, John feels a responsibility to give back in ways that will benefit all the communities he serves.

“It is important that we give back to our communities and not just in dollars,” John said. “That is the simplest part -- to give money. The hard part is doing the lifting. We‘ve tried to do our share of the lifting along the way.”

This is why John serves on many boards, too numerous to name over the years. He previously served on the Chancellor’s Board of Advisors for IU Northwest. And, presently supports the Crown Point Community Foundation and the YMCA, among others.

Higher education is one of the most significant beneficiaries of the Barneys’ philanthropy. It’s important, John says, to help universities provide the best possible education for the folks who most often remain to live and work in Northwest Indiana after they graduate.

Filling a void

In addition to the time, talent and treasure the Barneys give to IU Northwest, they also feel strongly about easing the financial burdens of students and opening doors for promising achievers who otherwise might not qualify for the traditional avenues of assistance.

Through their Barney Family Foundation, the Barneys are working towards establishing a scholarship to benefit what they believe is an underserved group.

There are scholarships aplenty, they say, for those who have significant financial need, and for those who excel academically. But what about those of middle incomes with academic promise? That is a group that the Barneys feel is underserved.

“They can’t get financial aid, so they are either left saddled with unspeakable debt or unable to go to school,” John said.

“They get left behind,” Ann added. “Our philosophy has become that we would like to help those students.”

Ann and John Barney are proud to add the 2017 Chancellor’s Medallion to the list of celebrations marking the 50th year of their marriage. Their blessings have grown into a desire to share them with others.

“Everybody should do their part when they’ve been giving blessings that exceed what they absolutely need,” Ann said. “It behooves us to give to those that are not in that capacity.”

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