Inducted in 2020
John G. “Pete” Barnard was born in Hartford, Kentucky on Sept. 28, 1898. He went to school in Ohio County, Kentucky and was raised on a farm and always felt that it was important to give a full day’s work. He served in the army from 1918 to 1920 and is a veteran of World War I.
He worked on motorcycles in the Army and after his service Pete became a motorcycle master mechanic which introduced him to arc and oxy-acetylene welding. By 1925 he joined Youngstown Sheet and Tube in Harbor, Indiana and in 1931 joined U.S. Steel Company in Gary, Indiana where he was a welding engineer. In June 1932, while on a visit back home to Kentucky, he visited downtown Owensboro for a shopping excursion with his wife, Bodyne Carson Barnard. They went to a small welding shop on Main Street. He fell in love with the shop and ended up buying it 2 days later. Pete took a chance of going into business for himself and adopted the name of Modern Welding Company.
As his company grew over the decades Pete found ways to give back to his community both in Owensboro and beyond. Mr. Barnard was also a pioneer in aviation with the purchase of the company’s first airplane in 1946 to be able to travel efficiently to the various facilities in the country. He was a founding member of Wesleyan Heights United Methodist Church and was a supporter of Kentucky Wesleyan College, from which he received an honorary doctorate degree. The employment of hundreds of people over the years and the many contributions to numerous charities including Kentucky Wesleyan College were a testimony to his dedication to the people of Owensboro.
From the hard-working, humble beginnings in Hartford, Kentucky being raised on a farm to building a national welding company from a one room shop on Main Street in Owensboro into 10 manufacturing and 4 supply stores at the time of his death, John G. “Pete” Barnard, demonstrated what it means to be a big time business builder, community leader, and a worthy Laureate of the Owensboro Business Hall of Fame.
Pete and Bodyne had one daughter, Anne Barnard, deceased, and three grandsons, all of which shared his vision for Modern Welding. His grandson Jim Jones is now President CEO of Modern Welding along with great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren involved in the business.