NORWOOD -- John A. Barney, born in up-state New York at Potsdam on December 1, 1941, passed away peacefully at his home near Brookings, South Dakota on January 1, 2022.
John was a born aviator. He earned his student pilot’s certificate at age 16 and as a youngster cut his wisdom teeth working at the Massena, NY airport, before graduating from Norwood-Norfolk Central High School in 1960.
He arrived in South Dakota with the U.S. Air Force in the early 60s and served with the 44th Missile Maintenance Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base. He worked at KRSD Radio in Rapid City and became known as the disc jockey Johnny Dee while also playing either bass guitar or drums in an array of local bands. His infamous 1968 Dodge van served as the musical instrument transportation service.
John’s flying career began with B & L Aviation in Rapid City early in the 70s where he became a mechanic and charter pilot. He loved his student pilots even though they brought him close to an early death on numerous occasions. John left Rapid City and took up residence with his wife Dianna at their Moody County acreage in 1996. On the other side of the state John engaged in aviation activities including a couple of stints as President of the South Dakota Pilots Association.
John accumulated over 20,000 hours of flight time as an instructor and charter pilot. He served as a Designated Pilot Examiner, Chief Pilot for an FAR Part 135 Charter Flight Operation, and as Chief Flight Instructor for the South Dakota State University Aviation FAR Part 141 Flight Training Program. He received the Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” Award in 2014 for Fifty Years of Dedicated Service in Aviation Safety.
He published a chap book of poetry, could read a book a day and loved aviation history. He enjoyed working on the acreage and the peace and quiet of nature.
John was preceded in death by his parents Clarence and Margaret Barney and sister Faith Barney all of Norwood, NY. He is survived by his wife Dianna Torson and two brothers Clarence and Tom Barney, step children, Patricia Torson, Kim Hatloy and Scott Randall, their children and grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.