Cover photo for Bruce Z. "Mr. Bearcat" Barney's Obituary
Bruce Z. "Mr. Bearcat" Barney Profile Photo
1947 Bruce Z. 2021

Bruce Z. "Mr. Bearcat" Barney

December 6, 1947 — December 30, 2021

Bruce Z. Barney "Mr. Bearcat"

Bruce Z. Barney, 74, of Battle Creek passed away on Thursday, December 30th after an eight-year battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was born in Battle Creek on December 6, 1947 to Robert and Olive (Zaback) Barney. Bruce attended Urbandale Elementary, Northwestern Jr. High, and graduated with the Class of 1966 from Battle Creek Central High School. He earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Western Michigan University.

Bruce began his teaching career in 1970 at Northwestern Junior High, and would spend the next 37 ½ years as a junior high school and high school teacher, football coach and grade principal---reaching his goal of becoming the Principal of his beloved BCC in 1992. Fondly referred to as "Mr. Bearcat" and "The Voice of the Bearcat Marching Band," he served tirelessly to lead the "Pride of the State".

Bruce's philosophy always was, "If it's good for my Bearcats, then let's do it!" He led a multitude of innovative and impactful programs and initiatives, including the Quest (Skills for Success) Program, the Alumni Association/Alumni Center, the Bearcat Alumni Brick Wall, and the Junior ROTC program, from which came one of his proudest moments--when they laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Family always came first. Bruce is survived by his wife, Jan (Janet McAllan) of 51 years; their son, Jeff (Jenny), their daughter, Erin (Ryan) Green, and his pride and joy; grandchildren Mason and Marryn Barney and Olivia and Avery Green. Also surviving include his sister, Brenda (Mel) Tuttle; sister-in-law, Pam (Brian) Barney; his brother, Don Barney; nieces, Susan Barney and Laura Washburn; nephews, Greg Tuttle, Joe (Stacy) Conrad; and many Barney & Zaback cousins. Preceding him in Heaven are his parents; brothers, Brian and Ronald, and a niece, Lisa (Mark) Bitterman.

Bruce was an avid sports and music fan. He loved to watch his children and grandchildren play and perform. He was so very proud of them. He was the biggest Michigan fan ever, having season football tickets for twenty-three years. On football Saturdays, a large Michigan flag is always flying at the Barney home.

Bruce was recognized as an honorary member of the Michigan Marching Band, and last summer he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the BCCHS Alumni Association. In part it read, "for his exemplary Bearcat spirit and tireless efforts in promoting, preserving, and furthering the legacy, pride and history of our beloved alma mater – Bearcat Pride Forever."

So, "Mr. Bearcat" --- Well done, thou good and faithful servant: Matt. 25:21.

Go Bearcats! Go Blue!

The family will receive friends 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., Friday, March 18th at Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care, Battle Creek. Masks will be required and social distancing will be followed. If you wish, a donation to Bruce's favorite organizations, Battle Creek Central Alumni Association P.O. Box 2204 Battle Creek, MI 49016, Battle Creek Community Foundation 32 W. Michigan Avenue Battle Creek, MI 49017 and the Humane Society of South Central Michigan 2500 Watkins Rd. Battle Creek, MI 49015 would be appreciated.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, March 18, 2022

2:00 - 5:00 pm (Eastern time)

Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care

105 Capital Ave NE, Battle Creek, MI 49017

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