Memories of Terry Barnich

I first met Terry Barnich when he was still the chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission. As a state regulator, Barnich was ahead of the curve on seeing the value of bringing competition to markets - energy and telecom - that had previously been dominated by monopolies. It didn’t always make him popular in the Republican circles that were his power base, but that didn’t seem to phase him.

When Terry left the public sector and founded New Paradigm Research Group with colleague Craig Clausen, the name wasn’t just a collection of terms — Barnich really did believe that there was a new paradigm ahead for competitive communications. This morning, in a conversation with Craig, I shared my strongest memory of Terry, which is that he was an original thinker.

Clausen agreed, as you can see here. One of the things that kept taking Barnich back to Iraq was the excitement of seeing infrastructure rebuilt and technology put to use in new ways, Clausen said.

That doesn’t surprise me, because one of the other things I remember about Terry is how passionate he could be about his ideas and what he thought the telecommunications industry could become. On multiple occasions, I shared a speaking podium with Terry and was impressed by how thoroughly prepared he was to challenge those asssembled, usually service providers, to be bolder in embracing new competitive opportunities and new technological possibilities.

I didn’t realize Terry had spent the last two-and-a-half years in Iraq, not as an independent contractor, getting rich during wartime, but as a government employee, trying to help rebuild critical infrastracture that will eanble Iraq to be economically stronger and more secure. But it doesn’t surprise me now to learn what he was doing and to hear that, despite repeated plans to return to the U.S. for good, Barnich kept going back.

Clausen admits it was a running joke that Terry was always coming home “next April,” but adds that there were plans for him to return permanently at the end of June. Our industry and many lives will be the less for the fact he won’t come home at all.

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