Charles Barnhart, a former Albuquerque city commissioner with an enthusiasm for community service, died in late June after a brief illness. He was 85.
Barnhart was born in Santa Rosa, where he played on the high school football team, only because there weren't enough boys to make up a team without him. In 1944, he earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at the University of New Mexico and later that year, joined the U.S. Navy, serving aboard the USS Waupaca during World War II. He also married his college sweetheart, Kathleen, that year; they had four children.
After the war, he left the service and worked as an engineer on projects in Los Alamos and Albuquerque. In the mid-1950s, he changed direction and enrolled in the UNM School of Law, graduating in 1959. For the next nine years, he was a sole practitioner in Albuquerque and then was a name partner in various small firms until he retired in 1968. In the 1980s, he developed Van Cleave Place, a Southeast Heights manufactured home community.
He was elected to the city commission in 1967 and served until 1971, alongside U.S. Sen Pete Domenici and Harry Kinney, who went on to become mayor. For two years, he was commission chair, which was the equivalent of mayor at the time.
Among the many boards he served on were All Faiths Receiving Home, Heights General Hospital and the Albuquerque Airport Advisory Board. He also remained active in city government, serving on the Mayor's Citizens' Advisory Committee on the San Juan-Chama water project, the Rio Grande Water Assembly and the Parks and Recreation Commission.