San Clemente Patch opinion columnist Tom Barnes has lived in town for the past 30 years. He has been active in the open space movement and co-founded the North Beach Green Alternative (NBGA) with his wife, Vonne. The NBGA website advocates a public park for North Beach instead of the proposed commercial/retail center. Tom Barnes was born a "war-baby" on Jan. 5, 1943 in Los Angeles, two weeks before his favorite film Casablanca was released. Growing up in several southern California communities, Tom graduated from Cal-State Long Beach earning a BA degree in Social Science in1964 and a teaching credential in 1965. Completing an MA in History at Northern Colorado University in 1966, he continued his education with post-graduate work at the University of Hawaii and St. Louis University.
From 1967– 2005—except for three years from 1975-1978 when Tom left teaching for a business career—Tom taught history, government, economics, and geography at Whittier, Sonora, El Toro, and Laguna Hills High Schools. Over the years Tom has also taught classes for Santa Ana College, Southern Illinois University –Edwardsville, and Concordia University.
For as long as he can remember Tom has been a "political junky," and he fondly remembers getting involved in the Kennedy-Nixon election of 1960. In 1971, as a 28 year old he was elected to the city council of Seal Beach as a write-in candidate in a recall election.
Recently, Tom has written two books that have been published. He is co-author of the 5th editions of Multiple-Choice and Free Response Questions with DBQ I Preparation for the AP United States History Examination published by D & S Marketing Systems, Inc.; and is the sole author of the 6th edition that is scheduled to be published in 2011. Tom is also the author of a trivia book about his favorite film, Casablanca. In 2008, the Barnes' formed Papyrus Publishing and self-published Casablanca Film Trivia: Here's Looking at You, Kid! The book may be purchased on their website, casablancatrivia.com
Aside from writing, Tom also tutors high school students in history, government, and economics. Tom and Vonne run a small business leasing out a condominium, The Lighthouse in Dana Point, as a vacation rental. They also endow the "Tom Barnes Scholarship" that is awarded annually to deserving seniors at Laguna Hills High School to help them with their college expenses.
Tom and Vonne enjoy spending time with their grandkids Marissa, 14, and Jonathan, 13, and Tom's son Dan. They both enjoy reading (Tom's favorite author is Eric Ambler) and their home has a library of over 3000 books. They are a two-cat family with Sunnie and Katie both rescue cats adopted from local shelters. Tom enjoys playing fantasy baseball.
The Barneses have been to 96 countries and 40 states and Tom says, "they are not done yet." Tom & Vonne's idea of a perfect vacation is to travel to the Caribbean or South Pacific and snorkel for a week.
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