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Dean Barnett, conservative blogger, dead at 41

Posted October 27, 2008 10:39 PM

Dean Barnett, a Belmont resident and well-known conservative blogger, has died from cystic fibrosis, according to several online reports posted Monday.

Barnett wrote a blog about the Boston Red Sox and more recently blogged at HughHewitt.com and was a contributor to the Weekly Standard and Townhall.com.

In 2006, he wrote about his experience with the disease.

"As I mentioned yesterday and long-time readers know, I have Cystic Fibrosis. CF is a genetic disease, the number one genetic killer in the country. The average age of death is 36. Iím now 39; when I was born in 1967, the life expectancy for a newborn with CF was 8 years,'' Barnett wrote in this column.

At the Weekly Standard, several prominent conservatives praised their late colleague.

"Dean Barnett, who passed away today, touched the lives of so many with his kindness, courage, wit, and good humor. The outpouring of tributes to Dean and condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues has already been tremendous.''

Here are just a few from his many friends and admirers.

John Podhoretz wrote: "It is heartbreaking to report that Dean Barnett, one of the early stars of the conservative blogosphere, died this afternoon at the age of 41 of complications from cystic fibrosis. Dean was a Massachusetts businessman who began writing a delightful blog about the Red Sox but soon found himself irrepressibly drawn to the politics of the present moment.''

William Kristol wrote: "He was a remarkable man--principled, witty, and to all of us, a model of grace and courage."

17 comments so far...
  1. I will miss you Dean; Always enjoyed listening to you as a stand-in for Hugh Hewitt
    May you rest in peace.

    Posted by Manny Tiangha October 28, 08 06:57 AM
  1. The world is very much a poorer place without Dean, whose zest for life was remarkable. I will miss him.

    His chowda accent notwithstanding, he was a wonderful fill-in for Hugh Hewitt.

    The only thing wrong with Dean that I could perceive was that his love for Boston sports teams did not extend to Michigan State football.

    He had an uncanny ability to see through the turbulent political scene to make sense of it all in a fair-minded, witty way.

    Posted by Brent Anderson October 28, 08 09:49 AM
  1. Mr. Barnett was a true gentleman: polite yet incisive. I know him only from his voice on the radio and his writings, yet I feel like I know him better than that. He surely will be missed: his humor, his geniality, his perspicacity. I hope I can attend his services tomorrow. Living in the shadow of his disease he always had his head held high, looking out for the best future for all of us that he would not get to see.

    Posted by herder October 28, 08 10:18 AM
  1. I started to follow Dean several years when he wrote on Hewitt's site and one day found myself disagreeing with his argument. Since he always supplied his email address, I wrote a note registering my view. Much to my surprise, Dean responded with a courteous and thoughtful response. That began a mostly email relationship that lasted through Dean's recent hospitalization.

    I say mostly because it was a bit more than just email. In July 2007, I was in Boston and invited Dean and his wife Kirstan to dinner in Cambridge. It was a delightful evening and gave me a glimpse into the man rather than just the blogger. The thing about Dean is that he always responded to my emails (most of them at least), sometimes with several words of acknowledgement and other times with several paragraphs. The key was that he always responded and I think that I am not the only one with whom he had such casual relationships. While he collegues and blogging acquaintances touch on their experiences with him, it is my and other readers' experience that I think elevate Soxblog to a different level, a citizen blogger who became a journalist but never forgot his roots.

    The last time I connected with Dean was just before his hospitalization though I didn't realize it at the time. Dean was working with GOP members of the House on recrafting the EESA (RTC2.0 at the time) and I was helping him gather background on potential capital markets solutions. I called him on his cell to clarify a point and caught him during a break while he was on the air. We were on for a couple of seconds and I noted his voice was a bit rougher than usual but didn't think much of it. That was the last contact as several emails to him went unanswered and then I learned of his illness.

    My condolences go out to Mrs. Soxblog as Dean was apt to refer to Kirstan. He was a geniune American and will be missed while he is remembered.

    Posted by Tom October 28, 08 12:00 PM
  1. Rest in Peace Mr. B. I will long remember your wonderful accent. I can remember you recently mentioning how you were working on an in depth report on the financial crisis. I heard you explain exacly what the liquidy crisis was and how it developed better than anyone, anywhere. We were all praying for you, now you can blog for the big guy. Not a bad gig after all. God Bless!

    Posted by Joseph Papa October 28, 08 12:21 PM
  1. Here I sit at my computer with tears for a man I never met and I wish I had. I so enjoyed listening to him as a fill in for Hugh, and I'm sure many of you out there feel the same as I do. You have to understand that as a listener to talk radio, I have formed attachments to certain callers and certain hosts. If there is anything I could do to help in some small way, please let me know. Thank you.

    Posted by Brenda Ingram October 28, 08 12:34 PM
  1. I met Dean on a plane and by the time the trip was over he was signed on to teach a legal course to talented public school students. I directed a program on Saturdays ifor fourth through suxth graders. He was charming, motivational, smart, energetic, clever, and collegial. He worked at that program for years and managed to find us substitutes if he was absent and to carry on after he could no longer work there. To say that he was beloved was an understatement. Although he was surrounded by people who had yeasty discussions about his politics, his charm and his intellect made those conversations memorable rather than difficult. His exuberance has left an incredible legacy. We mourn his loss

    Posted by Annette Raphel October 28, 08 01:07 PM
  1. I am very sad to hear of Dean's passing. I haven't thought about him in years but it is quite ironic that it happened this time of year. Larry, Dean, and I would have political conversations at our job on Saturday mornings. It was always interesting to hear Dean's perspective on politics, particularly in regard to the Republican Party. Kids were blessed to have Dean as an instructor and this is a true loss to humanity. God Bless his family, in particular his wife, whom I never met!
    Red Sox forever Dean!

    Posted by Jeff C October 28, 08 05:36 PM
  1. Rest in peace, Dean. See you soon enough.

    Posted by Eric L October 28, 08 08:34 PM
  1. When Dean wrote his article about his battle with CF, I was drawn to write and ask about a particular treatment that was successful. He kindly wrote to this stranger and corresponded back and forth with me about his disease, politics and many thank yous when I complimented him on a terrific appearance on the Hugh Hewitt Show. I'm so sad and sorry, we will never again hear that remarkable accent and sweet voice or the wit and wisdom of Dean Barnett.

    Posted by bette s October 28, 08 11:48 PM
  1. Like many others, I felt a personal attachment to Dean. The first time he responded to an email of mine, I realized that this guy wasn't simply a pontificater. He loved eliciting responses and respected (seemingly) all opinions. He was a true talent and and even better person.
    I keep his "Plucky Smart Kid with the Fatal Disease" pamphlet on my desk now in memoriam. Godspeed Dean.

    Posted by Dave M October 28, 08 11:48 PM
  1. I have been surprised at myself at my heavy reaction to Dean's passing, as I never had the opportunity to meet him, much less speak to him on the radio. I enjoyed his guest host stints on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, and was amazed at his knowledge of all things--movies, sports, politics, monetary matters--you name it. I feel as though I have lost a personal friend. Rest in peace, Dean.

    Posted by Jolinda October 29, 08 02:33 AM
  1. I never knew you Dean but to your family I pray God's comfort and peace be upon them. My mother died at 41 so I can highly relate! Why do some of the good die young. Well, all are in heaven I'm sure knowing and believing what we know and believe! Resting in the arms of Jesus until that day when we most assuredly will all be together! Rest in Peace dear Dean. You will be missed by so many! -Wanda Fay Gladwill

    Posted by Wanda Gladwill October 29, 08 02:54 AM
  1. This is the saddest news but something that Dean was probably better prepared for than those of us who only knew him from his wonderful performances on the HH show, his blog and his writings.

    I'm an Englishman living in Bristol, UK and I currently have several of Dean's shows on my Ipod. Listening to those last shows I'm struck by his astounding generosity and good humour - even at the height of the political battle he was unfailingly fair and kind.

    I think we should all aspire to the dignity he has shown.

    What a wonderful man and what a loss to us all. To his wife and family we can only say - he will never be forgotten

    Posted by Kieran McGovern October 29, 08 07:42 AM
  1. I've only heard Dean on a couple of occasions when filling in for Hue, however he struck me as a sincere, principled and kind person. I'm sure he is in a good place and may God Bless his family during this tiring period.

    Posted by DB Fan October 29, 08 09:25 AM
  1. Dean, there were many nights when I drove him listening to your funny and witty ruminations on politics, sports, and life in general. I'll miss them, for sure. RIP and God take care of your family.

    Posted by Domenic October 29, 08 12:45 PM
  1. Dean:
    I only knew you from your excellent guest host spots on the Hugh Hewitt program, but it didn't take me long to appreciate your charm, wit and genuine humility. I had actually come to look forward to Hugh's frequent absences so that you could host his show. But now you're gone, and far too suddenly.

    We are grateful for the gift of your short time among us, and may God bless you and your family.

    Posted by John Mencer October 31, 08 08:13 PM
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