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Letters for Kathy

Your letters of support.

CFOW official speaks to Barnett’s committment

On behalf of the Community Foundation of Whistler, I would like to extend condolences to Bob Barnett, the Murphy and Barnett families, and Pique staff. Kathy was a principal community member, and integral to the formation and success of the CFOW. As a founding board member, Kathy worked to establish the CFOW as a credible and viable organization.

She involved herself with numerous initiatives including the youth foundation, social justice, student scholarships, marketing, and fund development. No matter what the deadline, the issue, the problem or the discussion, she conducted herself professionally with her usual smile and sparkling personality.

As a board member for five years and president for two years, she provided clear leadership and encouraged fellow board members to accept new challenges while giving them the confidence to believe that they would succeed. She was always willing to take on whatever came along and could be counted upon to provide generous support for the CFOW's needs. Above all, Kathy inspired her colleagues to give of themselves for their community. We will miss her greatly.
Kerry Chalmers
Executive Director Community Foundation of Whistler

A friend, a mentor, a fiery spirit

I have been away this week and have just come home to wrap my head around losing Kathy. I know you must have hundreds of these letters by now and I'm sure there is nothing left to say except that my heart is breaking for all of you that were closest to her, and for the rest of us that considered her a friend and mentor and a role model. Kathy was that for me. I know so many things will be said in the next few weeks about the person who was so dedicated to her husband and business and community. And I know we will hear a lot about the pragmatic, logical, even-keeled business woman who worked quietly and diligently behind the scenes, never seeking the limelight. But tonight, for some reason I'm remembering the fiery, emotional and passionate Kathy. The woman whose eyes would well up when she talked about something she felt strongly about. The woman who rarely minced words. The woman who was as loyal to her friends as she was to her morals and principles. The woman who you didn't want to "cross". Some people never got to see that side of Kathy. I'm relatively certain all of you did (at the Pique) and I'm sure many of you will be able to identify with my memory of Kathy tonight.

About mid-way through the 16 or so years I've known her, I had the misfortune of "crossing" Kathy. I did something that really pissed her off. I didn't do it intentionally or with malice, but I did it. And, she let me have it. I have never, in my life, regretted making such a careless decision as that one that wounded Kathy. I spent about four days in hell, trying to explain myself, feeling like a thoughtless, disloyal, disrespectful and careless excuse for a friend. And she let me. And then when she finally agreed to talk to me, to hear my apology in person, I sat with her in the front seat of my car in our office parking lot and we balled our eyes out, and she leaned over after I was done blabbering and she hugged me, and said, "we'll be ok". I remember feeling — even more than relief — this profound sense of admiration for a woman who was confident and convicted enough to rip a strip off me yet kind and compassionate enough to let our friendship continue to grow despite the bump in the road. Kathy has taught me a lot of things over the years. She taught me how to read a balance sheet and an income statement. She taught me how to keep my books. She taught me how to write a proposal. She taught me about credit. And how not to use it. She taught me how to contribute to the community (and told me not to ever regret putting my family before the community when I had to). She taught me how to be a mentor. But that day, as I sat sobbing opposite her in the front seat of my car, with her hugging me, she taught me to live and learn. To forgive and move on. Tonight, I'm thanking god that she gave me that gift and that I count her as a friend that will be dearly missed.

Bob, my heart goes out to you. I don't know what to say, but if there is anything I can do for you or for the Pique or for any of Kathy's many causes, I hope you'll ask me. To the rest of you at the Pique, I hope you know how she talked about all of you. She was so proud of your team and I know she's proud of you now as you carry on her and Bob's vision.

Danielle Kristmanson

Former resident remembers too

Please accept my condolences. Kathy was a wonderful contributor to Whistler for many years, in many ways. She will be sorely missed.

Janet Rough Young
Former Whistler resident

Always there to help

Kathy said: “If you need any advice, just call – and don’t worry, we’ll be back.” Bob then said: “Good luck — follow your heart.” These were the last words I heard from the Barnett’s when they were in Sydney, on the way to New Zealand two weeks ago.
We had been talking about my plans to start my own media business — and having worked at the Pique, I couldn’t believe my luck that the Barnett’s were in town.
After five years away from Australia, it was cool they were temporarily staying near Bondi, an iconic Aussie beach.
That also meant dinner on the beach, which Bob and Kathy paid for. And they paid for it in a way that wasn’t awkward – the kind of way that you remember and hope to repay someday soon.
Over dinner we talked about business, bikes, the Olympics and, of course, hockey. Kathy was particularly enamoured with Roberto Luongo, the Canuck goalie who was, apparently, playing “like a brick wall”.
Bob and Kathy finished each other’s sentences — Kathy was easy to understand, and as always, I had to really listen to Bob.
It was sensational to see them after three years and they seemed as happy I can remember them ever being. Kathy talked about some difficult issues that all business people deal with, but it was still clear she loved her job.
She also talked about the sacrifices she and Bob made when they started the Pique and shed further light on just how difficult running a business can be.
“Business acumen” is one phrase she used specifically and I also remember thinking that this meant many things. During the course of the next few hours, and also drawing on what I’d seen when I was their employee in Canada, I understood “business acumen” meant having to make tough decisions that don’t always make you popular. It meant doing the sums at night after spending a day selling your product. It meant seeking the best staff in an environment that can be difficult to find people. And as the publisher of a community newspaper in an amazing little town like Whistler, it meant finding time for the betterment of the community — the kind of time that wins you a Business Person of the Year award.
Things will be extremely difficult for a lot of people for a long while, but I will take solace in the fact that Kathy ran her own race. She was brilliant with numbers and as prudent as any big city executive, but she chose to get married and start a newspaper in one of the world’s most beautiful places.
I’m just terribly sad that this shocking accident means I won’t be able to call Kathy for advice, or encourage her to come to Australia for a bike tour, or a surf, or even a barbecue. My thoughts go to everyone in Whistler, for the community at large will suffer because of this loss — especially everyone at the Pique, Kathy’s family and friends, and most of all — Bob.

Adam Daff

A laugh to remember

Kathy had the most natural and unique laugh and it was just infectious. She was an incredible lady to work for too, you wanted to do your best work for her. Thank you, Kathy, for everything you did for me. I am a better person through knowing you. My heart goes out to Bob and the community of Whistler.

David Henderson
A lasting impact on community

For me I will always remember Kathy as a person with strong character, great business instincts, an incredible sense of humour and a connection to community that was unshakeable.
I came to Whistler and worked at the Whistler Question skiing a ton and selling ads on napkins from Dusty’s with Doug Sack and little Johnny Colebourn.
Kathy was the bookkeeper and office manager at the time and we were a ragtag crew of workers who got the paper out each week and lived a fun and loose lifestyle.
When I left I swore that I would look for something else to get passionate about and that’s when I really got hooked on mountain biking. Kathy thought it was a good idea.
Little did I know at the time that this passion would turn into a lifestyle and alternative career path and nobody helped me to realize this as much as two incredibly strong women — my wife Caroline and Kathy Barnett.
Kathy was always the devil’s advocate to my hopeful optimism and helped temper and direct my energies which in the end will be successful. Whistler has not just lost one of our finest community members but also a leader, mentor, supporter and sharp business person as well. I will miss her energy and outlook and know this is a hole in our community which will be impossible to fill.
Combined with her husband Bob Barnett, I can’t think of anyone that has had such a positive and lasting impact on our community.

Grant Lamont

To the Pique staff

The staff of a community newspaper like this one is a very special group of people. Kathy entered such an atmosphere when I worked alongside her about 20 years ago at the Question, putting out Whistler's weekly news, and it is clear that she maintained that kind of atmosphere as she and Bob envisioned and launched Pique Newsmagazine. Her tragic departure is very sad and she will be missed throughout Whistler, but nowhere more than at her daily workplace.

When you're involved in collecting and crafting the news in a very special place like Whistler, you put in the extra effort to go beyond the expected. It's hard work, it is fun and you work with great people, both the community and your colleagues. I remember arriving each day knowing that I would interview interesting people, learn a lot of new things and find some way to share that with the readers in a way that told them all something they did not already know. It means long hours, lots of energy, an open mind and a sense of curiosity. Kathy had all that. While a publisher's job is much more about business than a reporter's ever will be, you're part of a team and we all share the passion for creating an excellent newspaper, week after week.

Whistler is also special because it attracts special people, with skills well beyond what one could expect in a small town. You (would be hard to) find another independent community newspaper like this one anywhere in Canada, and it is because of the people. Talented, wise and hard-working. Add to that its complete independence from the burden of being part of a huge chain of papers, and you have a very unique source of news, entertainment, creativity and comment.

I remember fondly many long production sessions and deadlines to get our paper out. Kathy always had a positive outlook and remained a focused, driving force. I recall asking to talk to her in her office when I had decided to move to Australia. She apparently had suspected I was after a raise and was prepared to offer one, but was caught off-guard when I revealed my plans. She instead had a little cry and we had a hug. Such was the tightness of our workplace 'family' and the kind of boss she was. Tender, caring and wonderful.

Kathy shared with me the excitement for their planned trip down under, and sadly my recent visit to Whistler overlapped the time she and Bob were to be away. Kathy will retain a permanent position in our hearts and everything she worked toward and stood for will live on in Whistler, week after week after week, through this paper.

Brian (Smith) Hydesmith
Photographer/reporter, Whistler Question, 1986-1991

Thoughts from Australia

I feel so fortunate to have met and worked with Kathy in my brief time working at Pique, she was an incredible, inspiring person in so many ways. My love and thoughts go to Bob and the rest of the Pique family.

Maggie Bufe, Australia

A loss in the family

Growing up as a son of two teachers I got used to the idea that once my parents were comfortable leaving me at home they would take their two months off in the summer away from us to journey around the world enjoying the freedom that they had earned after years of raising two young boys. I have worked at the Pique for the better part of five years. It is a close-knit family, and one that is just coming out of its years as a troubled teen. Often we affectionately refer to Bob and Kathy as ‘Mom and Dad’. And as we exit our infancy and slowly work our way through adolescence we are more and more getting used to the idea that Mom and Dad will leave every so often without us to experience some summer holidays away from the kids.

My parents still take frequent holidays. At the moment they are enjoying their retirement in Africa. I have always pondered the thought of what might happen if one or both of them failed to return safely. Unfortunately a parallel to this situation has just taken place. A patriarch of the family has failed to return. With this comes a terrible of feeling of loss, uncertainty of the future, and the emotions involved going through the memories.

I remember Kathy as one who expected the best from everyone in the family. Respect was only given after it was successfully earned. I can remember many times metaphorically screaming my way back to my room as you made me redo a million different proofs for the cover. Sometimes I felt like you could never be pleased. But, after a few years working with you I finally saw the light and the wisdom in your teachings. You have made me a better artist and designer. And I will miss what I could have achieved and learned with you in the future.

I will also miss getting to know you better. I know because of the position you were in, you had to live your life a little misunderstood by your family. I am thankful I took it upon myself to really try and get to know the other side of you. You were always there for me when I needed a ride home or a trip to the city. I will miss our conversations and learning about how you have lived your life finding a perfect balance between work and play. You’ve set an example that’s not so easy to follow. I will think of you when I’m feeling lazy. I will quote you often in my head “One of my biggest pet peeves is a whining man!” I will do my best to retain what you have taught me.

So as a family we begin the process of healing, remembering and moving on without our Mother. She built a roof over our heads and made us feel safe underneath it. Always there in a time of need. Always there to steer us in the right direction. And while the times in front of us might be painful, I’m sure you can rest comfortably knowing that what you have created and the family that is left behind will do our best to keep your legacy alive.

Jon Parris

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