March 25, 1949 – July 2, 2020
Donald J. Barnes proved his love of fast cars many a night on Sheridan Drive when he was a teen.
“He just loved racing,” his daughter Lori Mallone said. “He would get the ugliest car because they never expected an ugly car to win.”
A longtime Town of Tonawanda resident and retired Nabisco manager, he died July 2 in Kenmore Mercy Hospital after a period of declining health. He was 71.
Born in the Town of Tonawanda, he was the oldest of five children. Much to the chagrin of his mother, he had begun drag racing at Lancaster Speedway before he graduated from Kenmore West High School in 1967.
To pay for racing, he did sheet metal work and augmented his income by challenging other hot rodders on Sheridan Drive.
“He would come home with pockets full of money from drag racing,” his daughter said.
Mr. Barnes began working in 1969 for the Nabisco plant in Buffalo that made Oreo cookies, then went to Nabisco’s Milk-Bone plant as a safety and risk manager. He retired in 2007.
A longtime member of the Clutch Artists, a group of hot rod, custom and classic car enthusiasts, he was a past president of the club. He played a major role in organizing its annual Autorama car show and bringing in celebrity guests. He also was an International Show Car Association judge.
He met his wife, the former Mary Benzino, on Sheridan Drive while she was working as a waitress in a Your Host restaurant.
In addition to his wife and daughter, survivors include two other daughters, Lisa Barnes and Tina Piontkowski; two sons, Robert and Steve; two sisters, Sue Lindner and Claudia Greck; two brothers, Ken and Tom; nine grandchildren and a great-grandson.
Services were held Monday, July 6, in Wattengel Funeral Home, 533 Meadow Drive, North Tonawanda.
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