Howard and Dorothy Barnett met in Tyler, Texas and married at a very early age – they are still together after 50 years. Both graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. Howard with a BA in Journalism and Dorothy with a BA in Anthropology, an MA in English/Creative Writing, and a Post Graduate Michener Fellowship from the Michener Center.

They share their home with an Australian shepherd named Pirate. They have two daughters, Laura (son – in – law, Jon) and Cory (screenwriter). Three grandchildren complete the family – Reagan, Hudson, and Paige.

Howard has been very physically active all of his life and has enjoyed tennis, racquetball, skiing, and martial arts (earning a 2nd degree black belt in a traditional Korean style). He also owns golf clubs and pays green fees regularly, but to say that he “plays” golf is an insult to a beautiful game. He has also been a smokejumper, a motocross racer, a staff writer for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and a freelance writer. Having been a stanch environmentalist for most of his life, he supports many efforts to bring awareness of Barton Creek and Lady Bird Lake through free programs for children who might not have an opportunity to see nature in their backyards.

Dorothy has kept busy with volunteer projects for many years and has served on the board of several organizations at the city, state, and national level. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for the South Austin Senior Activity Center. Dorothy retired as Assistant Dean of Communications at Austin Community College where she taught English and creative writing. She recently completed an MFA in Creative Writing at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. She has published a book of memoir of her unusual childhood titled , Road Songs: a memoir.The book is available at Book People, Book Woman and online at Amazon.

Non Profit Groups

Zilker Park Boat Rentals has a long history of providing quality recreational experiences to groups that have little or no money in their budgets for fun activities. We charge these groups nothing for the use of the boats.

We only ask that these organizations plan their outings during our non-peak times, that is, during the weekdays or before noon on Saturdays and Sundays.

Here are some examples of groups which are used our canoes: MHMR, School for the Blind, School for the Deaf, Center for Battered Women, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, Austin Nature Center, Urban Rangers, Sunshine Camp, Youth Advocacy, Youth Options, PARD Recreation Centers, Hobo, City of Austin Youth Employment Program, Opportunity for Youth, Austin Habitat for Humanity.

We do, however, have to make a living from the canoes, so we draw the line at groups such as the boy scouts, cub scouts, church groups, labor unions, etc.

We also have never met a Town Lake cleanup we didn’t like and have never declined to provide canoes for any organization willing to put forth the effort. If you have a non-profit group (especially a group of kids who normally wouldn’t have the chance to go canoeing and kayaking), e-mail us at or give us a call.