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Tammy Barnes Puts Her Problem Solving to Work at the Senior Connection
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Tuesday, June 6, 2023


She’s practiced law, milked cows and worked at INEEL. And she moved to Hailey for health’s sake.

Meet Tammy Barnes, who has gained a reputation as a problem solver at the Senior Connection.

Although born in Farmingham, Mass., Barnes was raised in Ashland, Ohio.

The daughter of the owner of Coastal Pet Products, the largest dog and cat leash manufacturing company in the country, she was adopted by her mother’s second husband, who brought a half-brother into her life.  When Tammy was 16, her mother married again--to a loving, wonderful man who added two stepsisters to the family. 

Barnes graduated from Miami University in Ohio with degrees in urban regional planning and Latin.  During the summers she worked at an ice cream parlor in Lake Erie and on a farm owned by her aunt and uncle where she became very experienced at milking cows.

College was followed by law school at Ohio State where she also started studying for a Master in environmental issues.  There, Barnes also worked 20 hours a week doing legal research for a doctor who was getting her PhD in Nuclear Engineering.

After obtaining her law degree Tammy tried out the practice of law, working for a law firm in Pocatello.  She had fallen in love with the West while working one summer on a ranch in Jackson Hole, while in law school. And she signed on with the law firm at the recommendation of a friend at the ranch.

Unfortunately, her first major case involved mold and her client was an insurance company.  That’s when Tammy realized the practice of law--at least, if she was going to get these kinds of cases and clients--was not for her.

So, off she went to INEEL, now known as Idaho National Laboratory. This time she was not alone. She’d met a young man named Chris Barnes at a party and, with the encouragement of her mother, she invited Chris on a date and a year later married him.  Soon after, she gave birth to their daughter Elle.

In those days, a young working mother who was breast feeding her infant was not provided any privacy, and Barnes found herself battling inappropriate comments and the boorish behavior of some co-workers when she took time to pump milk.  However, an enlightened manager was not only sympathetic to her plight, but promoted her over several managers to work directly for him.  Barnes then began visiting and reviewing facilities to ensure they were running correctly.

Unfortunately, medical issues stemming from her childhood began accelerating.  Nausea, migraine headaches, dizziness and incompatible medications culminated in a serious fall on Feb.  25, 2007 when Tammy was just 40 years old.  She was taken to Idaho Falls where a surgeon removed seven centimeters of her brain. 

She was in a coma for seven weeks and she then spent three months in rehab in Boise, learning how to walk and talk again.  The perpetual medical issues resulted in her seeking specialty treatment here. And in 2016 Barnes moved to Hailey.

As Barnes muses, she and her husband Chris are quite different personalities. He’s a famous rock climber, lover of skiing and a child of the laid-back hippie era. Tammy describes herself as a serious, intense, lover of knowledge and scientific research and a problem solver. But, while they live apart some of the time, they remain close. Chris often visits Hailey to assist Tammy when she needs help, and Tammy travels to Pocatello to tend to activities there.

Their daughter Elle is now 21 and finishing college at Washington State in Pullman. A a lover of dogs and cats, she not only works for an animal shelter but she started her own company making bright, fun kerchiefs for animals.

Tammy, meanwhile, believes the Senior Connection has enhanced her life in many ways. And she’s done her bit to enhance it.

Barnes enjoys lunch there during the week and has made numerous friends.  And, being the problem solver that she is, she has been able to help these new friends with researching their medical issues and finding new medications, medical providers, assistance in transportation to appointments for them. She’s even helped her fellow seniors find new living arrangements.

Tammy Barnes has a wonderful smile, and you will find her at the senior center, always willing and anxious to do research and provide any help she can.








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