Barnes’ light will continue to shine

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 26, 2005

The majority of members of the Booker T. Washington Association were shocked to learn of the death of our president, Virginia Howell Barnes, on last Thursday. The news shocked me because of the way that not anything in this world seemed to be wrong with Barnes during our school reunion that was celebrated on the weekend of July 8-10.

Prior to the final week of the celebration Barnes led all meetings and was only absent once about one month before the celebration to go through a medical procedure that no one questioned, thinking that it was only a routine test. We later found out the reason for the procedure but knew that with proper treatment, and if diagnosed in time, the survival rate was very good.

Barnes bounced back extremely well and most of us saw no signs of her being ill during the BTW Alumni celebration.

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I was the chairman of the Souvenir Booklet Ad Committee and consulted with her many times about the ads I had sold and the ones she wanted to add to my list. I also remember distinctly how she always relied on the advice of her former English teacher and my aunt, Maddie Vann, and her opinion whenever she had to write her presidential message in the booklet. The picture she was suppose to use to go along with the message was very important to her and one evening at a meeting in her home, she wanted Vann and me to select one among three. The one that we chose was also her choice and she laughed with satisfaction. It is also the one at the top of this column.

She was then very concerned about the memorial moment and space in the booklet that we needed to give to the late Clyde Bradley, our vice president. She could not stop praising him for his works as her assistant and wanted to make sure that he would be remembered well. As I read her obituary on Sunday I thought, isn’t it ironic how now we have lost two good leaders at almost the same time of the year and only one year apart.

During the celebration Barnes attended all events except the boat ride because she indicated that she just couldn’t stand all of that water and no where to go if the boat sank for some reason. However, she gave closing remarks at the dinner on that Friday night and again at the worship service on that Sunday and seemed to be pleased and happy in the way everything was going. I suppose that even though she was carrying a bigger load in her heart about her sickness, she only wanted the reunion to come off without a hitch and that everyone would enjoy themselves without worrying about her.

When I talked with her daughter, Cidra Davis, on Sunday night, she

told me that Barnes acted the same way around her family and church family as she did around BTW Alumni members. According to Davis, Barnes seemed to want people to think that everything was still good with her no matter how bad she may have felt.

That is why it seems only fitting that the family wants to request that donations be made to First Baptist Church Caring and Sharing Program because caring and sharing seemed to be what Barnes was to those whom she loved and the organizations that she was a member of.

In her message in the 2005 souvenir booklet she quoted Matthew 5:16, &uot;Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.&uot; How appropriate to end a message with this quotation.

The members of the BTW Alumni Assoc. will remember Barnes’ light shining as she organized the meetings and took control of past and present activities so that the organization might continue to run smoothly.

This quotation by Sir Francis Bacon- &uot;The first creation of God, in the works of the days, was the light of sense; the last was the light of reason; and His Sabbath work, ever since, is the illumination of the spirit,&uot; says it all.

That all is-that the light of Barnes’ spirit will continue to illuminate the hearts of her family and friends, her church members and the Booker T. Washington Alumni Association.

Evelyn Wall is a retired News-Herald reporter and regular columnist.