Richard Whitten Barnes was born in Minnesota but grew up on the north side of Chicago. A band scholarship took him to Michigan State University, where he majored in chemistry. He is now retired from a long career in international chemical sales and marketing, taking him all over the world. Barnes is a veteran of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division and an avid sailor. He, his wife, Marg and their dog Sparty live in Lake Wylie, S.C., and they spend summers at their cottage on St. Joseph Island, Ontario.