MAA Inducts Barney Barnhart, Gwyn Besner & David Helmer into Hall of Fame

MAA Inducts Barney Barnhart, Gwyn Besner & David Helmer into Hall of Fame

Martin “Barney” Barnhart
2014 MAA Hall of Fame Inductee


Born in 1920, Barney Barnhart was raised on the 202 acre family farm just south of Reading, Michigan where he still resides to this day. Arthur, Barney’s father, in addition to running the family farm, dealt in Belgian draft horses. His father would frequent auctions with Barney in tow. Barney was intrigued with the auctioneers chant and when he returned home, working in the fields, he would often “practice” his chant by selling imaginary horses and grain while trying to learn the skills of the men he admired.

In 1939, Barney’s father hired legendary auctioneer, Andy Adams to auction his registered short horned cattle herd. Seizing an opportunity, Barney asked Mr. Adams if he could sell a wagon full of miscellaneous items. The legendary Andy Adams saw something in Barney as soon afterward, he hired him to work future auctions. From that day on, 73 years later, Barney Barnhart has been a regular fixture as an auctioneer at the South end of the Hillsdale County Fairgrounds on Saturdays.

He has held or assisted with auctions literally all over the United States. The biggest auction Barney ever conducted was in Minnesota where he sold an entire town. It was a lumber town which was no longer needed. There was a bank, jail, barber shop and other types of log cabin structured buildings which he sold. That day, he sold an old milk wagon that had been left behind. It was the first horse drawn wagon in the city which sold at auction for $27,000.

From 1940-2009, Barney assisted with and donated his valuable time at the annual 4-H and FFA animal auctions at the end of each Hillsdale County Fair. Barney and his family also raised and showed pure bred Chester White swine. In 1952, their entry in the Michigan State Fair was the state champion borrow and was the first in Michigan to sell for more than $1,000. Ironically, the hog’s name was “One Grand!” Barney and his father were featured on the cover of the 1952 issue of Michigan Farmer magazine.

Barney and his beautiful bride Ruby married in 1947. They have five children, five grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Ruby passed away just before their 61st anniversary in 2008. This past October 10, 2013, The Exchange Club of Hillsdale honored Martin “Barney” Barnhart with his induction into the 33rd Book of Golden Deeds Award Banquet. Barney was honored by the MAA with his induction into the MAA Hall of Fame as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Gwyn Besner, CAI, AARE
2014 MAA Hall of Fame Inductee


Gwyn Besner was inducted into the Michigan Auctioneer Hall of Fame on January 29, 2014 at the Michigan Auctioneers Association Annual Conference in Lansing.

Gwyn has been an auctioneer since 1982 and a certified Auction and Real Estate Instructor since 1994. Six years ago, she created her own highly successful proprietary school, The Acme Institute. Gwyn’s education includes Delta College, University of Michigan, World Wide College of Auctioneering, Certified Auctioneers Institute and Auctioneer Accredited in Real Estate.

She wanted to buy a PA so she got her dealers license and talked a couple of other auctioneers into buying one too so she could buy enough to become a dealer, then she also started selling PA’s. Later on she went to real estate school, obtained her broker’s license and became a teacher. She taught for Holloway’s Institute for year before starting her own school. She has helped thousands of students get their salespersons and brokers licenses. Many of Gwyn’s classes focus on Auction law and helping Auctioneers expand their knowledge of the real estate market. Gwyn’s boundless energy and enthusiasm for her professions are legendary. Teaching, lobbying at the state level, constantly updating her professional data base and donating countless hours of her time for the causes she believes in are all what makes Gwyn Besner who she is. Gwyn’s love for the auction profession could only be overshadowed by her love for music and her grandchildren.

She’s served on the Michigan Auctioneers Association board of directors for 14 years, including time as the Secretary/Treasurer and VP. She also serves as the chair of the Michigan Auctioneer Registration Board. Although her focus has been on teaching, she is still very active in auctions and referrals in Michigan. Gwyn has come a long way since her first auction in 1982 and, at one time, was the only woman on the Michigan Auctioneer’s Association. Now she is the first woman honored with a place in the Michigan Auctioneers Hall of Fame.

David G. Helmer, CAI, GPPA, CES
2014 MAA Hall of Fame Inductee


David was born into the auction profession through an auction company what was founded by his MSAA Hall of Fame father, Jerry Helmer and his partner, Lloyd Braun in 1974. Although the business gave David an automatic place at the podium, he has never just sat back, hit cruise control and rode the wave due to his affiliation with an established auction company. The fact is, David used this platform to grab the steering wheel not only to continue the Braun & Helmer Auction Service legacy, but to take the company to an extraordinary level.

David has an amazing talent, passion and commitment toward the entire auction industry. He has attended every MAA sanctioned event for approximately two decades including: Conventions, Midwest Auctioneers Round Up, Special Meetings etc. He hosted the welcome picnic for the 2013 Midwest Auctioneers Roundup at his farm in Saline, providing an ample dinner for over 100 and inviting everyone to take barn tours, all while driving the tractor and hay wagon to transport everyone around.

David is the founder of the annual MAA All Star Auction. The event has raised over $30,000 for charity over the past five years and has given the MAA an immeasurable amount of media attention through local Michigan communities and numerous front page stories in industry trade publications. He served on the National Auctioneers Foundation Board of Trustees, is a past President of the Michigan Auctioneers Association, was a 2006 Auction X Press National All Star, is the 2008 Michigan Ringman Champion, the 2006 Michigan Auctioneer Champion, won First Place Champion of over 100 MSAA Marketing Awards, and has earned his CAI, GPPA and CES designations through the National Auctioneers Association.

Davis has worked over 1,600 public auctions, worked with over 60 charitable organizations and is the exclusive auctioneer for the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions alumni. He is one of the founders of The Auctioneer Channel and the founder of the Super Auction. He is well respected among his peers and is a role model for many in and out of the auction arena. He is an upstanding member of his community with high morals and a faithful Christian. David and his wife, Jennifer, have three children, Olivia and twin boys, Luke & Caleb.

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