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Bynum, Barry Kirk

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Barry Kirk Bynum passed away unexpectedly but peacefully on Easter Sunday, March 31st, at his home at the age of 75. He was preceded in his death by his mother and father John “Jay” and Virginia (Solari) Bynum, both of whom resided in Sonora their entire lives. He left behind his wife, Diane Bynum, of Tuolumne, his brother, Brent Bynum, of Modesto, and his nephew, Eli Bynum and Corinne of Hughson.  Barry (“Grandpa Fuzzy” and “Papa”) also left behind step children, who were like his own, Rachel and Steve Sweitzer,  Jema and Jared Covert, and Dale Campos; and his grandchildren, Isaac and Randee Campos, Nicole and Justin Kehler, Chad and Bethany Sweitzer, Adam and Junelle Sweitzer, John Sweitzer, and one great grandson Riggs Kehler.

The Bynum family has a deep multigenerational history in Tuolumne County. His grandmother graduated from Sonora High School when it was still held in the basement of the old historic Courthouse in downtown Sonora. His mother was born in Sonora and shared that she remembered at 12 years old pulling her wagon up Washington Street in the 4th of July Parade when it was still a dirt road. Barry loved growing up in the small town of Sonora and never had a desire to leave. He attended elementary school at “The Dome” up on the hill above Sonora and then Sonora High School. He excelled in many sports as well as academics, winning County debate, spelling bee and math competitions. He loved baseball, basketball, football, golf, and bowling. His first job was at the old bowling alley on Stewart Street where you will find his name carved in the sidewalk along with the names of many other Sonora children from the 1950’s era.

Barry loved spending time outdoors hunting, fishing, water skiing and boating at Melones Reservoir. Barry was a highly regarded athlete in football, basketball, and baseball. In his junior year in basketball, Barry won the school’s first Valley Oak League Championship in the very prestigious Modesto City Schools Invitational Tournament. As a senior, he was a unanimous All-League selection and led his team to the newly created Mountain Valley Conference League Championship. He received a basketball scholarship to San Jose State University. In the spring, Barry moved on to become an All-League player in baseball. He was the co-MVP for his team in his senior year. He pitched a no-hitter and hit a game winning home run in his first start of the 1967 season. Barry was proud to have been inducted into the Sonora High School Hall of Fame for his many sports accomplishments during his high school years.

After graduating from Stanislaus State University, Barry returned to Sonora and became employed by the County of Tuolumne Public Works Department. He started his 40+ year career there in the Engineering Division, then on the Construction Crew, and ended as the Road Superintendent supervising the road maintenance crews and road maintenance projects. At the Public Works Department he met his wife, Diane, and they spent their years together in both Twain Harte and Tuolumne. They loved spending time at the family cabin at Donner Lake, boating on Lake Tahoe, and walking on the beach in Santa Cruz. They especially loved the Santa Cruz and Lake Tahoe celebration trips the family would take together each time a grandchild graduated from elementary school, high school, or college. Family was very important to Barry and he spent as much time as he could with them. He even coached one of his grandson’s baseball teams. Although his most comfortable place was just being home and working on his property, he would push past his comfort zone to travel long distances, even flying, just to see and spend time with his grandchildren and new great grandson.

Barry loved being active working outside, golfing, and bowling through his last days. He enjoyed playing on many professional golf courses in his lifetime, including courses in the Tahoe area, Hawaii and Pebble Beach. Barry’s Wednesday Bowling League team will not be the same without him.

In his later years Barry became a Christian and devoted his life to God. He regularly attended Chapel in the Pines Church in Twain Harte, and considered it the highlight of his week. His daily walk with God and desire to closely follow God’s will for his life became most important to him. For that reason, although we miss him, we are comforted to know that he is in heaven, happy and healthy in his eternal home, and that we will be reunited one day. His family and all those who knew him will hold tight to the examples of how he lived his life…love God, love family and friends, love animals, live simply, care about others, kind words, generosity, hard work, and make time for fun and cheering on your family. He made it a goal to make someone smile or laugh every day. He will be missed by so many.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Saturday, July 13th, at 1:00 at Chapel in the Pines in Twain Harte.


  • Date of Death: 03/31/2024
  • Age: 75
  • Residence: Sonora, CA