Mr. Barnell was born on September 30, 1925 in Brooklyn, NY; the son of the late Joseph Henry and Jenny Martorelli Barnell.
He graduated from Manhattan High School of Aviation Trades. Ever amazed at aviation, he held the goal of becoming an airline pilot. He enlisted in the Army as a senior in High School at 17 years old and served dutifully. Mr. Barnell was discharged from the Army in May of 1945. At that time, due to the fact that he wore glasses, he was unable to go forth with his aviation goals. Through the GI Bill, he attended Modern School of Photography in New York City, graduating in 1948. This decision formed the trajectory of his incredible career. Upon graduation he was hired by the Readers Digest as a Staff Photographer where he worked for 15 years and enjoyed a truly amazing career, beyond what most people (including himself) could ever dream of. He traveled the world photographing the covers for all the International Divisions. He had over 1000 magazine covers. Upon the decision to no longer use photographic covers by the Readers Digest Magazine, he became a freelance photographer for many magazines and publications including the Readers Digest Magazine, National Geographic Magazine and others. Many of his photographs appeared on the Kodak Display in Grand Central Station when it was first introduced.
Mr. Barnell traveled around the world visiting more the 40 countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South and North America during the 1950’s when travel was a first-class experience. This exposure to the world and the experiences he enjoyed shaped who he became in so many ways.
Later after marrying and starting his family, Mr. Barnell started his own Stock Photography Agency called Image International, which supplied photographs to all types of media and printing outlets, including textbooks, calendars, cover sleeves and more. Later, his company merged with Shostal Associates, one of two well-known Stock Agencies, where he worked for 25 years. Towards the end of his career he sold his company to Four By Five, which later became SuperStock.
A resident of Ridgefield for nearly 30 years and raising his children here, Mr. Barnell then moved to Venice Florida where he enjoyed over 25 years of retirement. Mr. Barnell moved back to Ridgefield two years ago to again be closer to family.
Mr. Barnell served as a Cub Master and a leader in the Indian Guides.
In addition to Photography, Mr. Barnell enjoyed travel, good foods, cooking and automobiles. He was a member of the American Society of Magazine Photographers (ASMP); the Picture Agency Council of America (PACA) where he served a President for several years; the Overseas Press Club; and the Sports Car Club of America. He never put anything ahead of his family. He attended both Sacred Heart Church and St. Mary’s Church, of Ridgefield.
Mr. Barnell is survived by his three daughters: Catherine Tango, and her husband, Jim Dykes; Mia Barnell-Muha and Lisa Petersen and her husband, Tor. He is also survived by 9 grandchildren: Caitlin, Connor and Lily Tango; Michael and Joseph Muha; and Catie, TJ, Cole and Danny Petersen. In addition, Mr. Barnell is survived by a sister, Dolores Healy and her husband Gay; his brother’s wife, Audrey Barnell; several nieces and nephews and their families; as well as his former wife, Marcia Barnell and her children, Marcy, Mary and John.
In addition to his parents, Mr. Barnell was predeceased by his beloved wife, Eileen; his son Joseph “Jed” Barnell; his granddaughter, Molly Tango, and his brother, Edward Barnell.
The family wishes to thank the nurses and staff at Laurel Ridge for their compassion and care during our father’s final days.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, February 16 at 10:15 AM at St. Mary's Church; 55 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield. Interment with US Military Honors will follow in St. Mary's Cemetery, Ridgefield. Friends will be received on Thursday, February 15 from 4:00 to 7:00 PM at Kane Funeral Home; 25 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield
Memorial contributions can be made to the Molly Ann Tango Memorial Foundation: PO Box 15; Ridgefield, CT 06877, www.mollytango.org