V.M. ‘Barney’ Annas

Published 8:08 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2012

VIRGINIA BEACH ­— V.M. “Barney” Annas, 85, a former stockbroker who in retirement became a dedicated fundraiser for the arts, died Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, after a long illness. Prior to that, and throughout his adulthood, he led and supported dozens of community groups and projects, including helping to build the Republican Party in the second congressional district.

He was born in Suffolk on June 11, 1927, to Vonoe and Emily Hood Annas.


After graduating from Suffolk High School in 1945, he enlisted in the Navy and served during and after World War II. He attended the Norfolk division of the College of William and Mary.

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He married the former Georgia Carolyn Smith of Portsmouth in 1947, and in 1959 they moved to Virginia Beach.

He was a branch manager for Southwestern Life Insurance Co. from 1963 to about 1984, when he became a stockbroker and officer with Merrill Lynch, both in Norfolk. The Norfolk Jaycees named him Boss of the Year in 1973.

His involvement in politics, sports and other areas of community life was heaviest in the 1970s and 1980s.

Groups that benefited from his exceptional leadership and fundraising skills included the Norfolk Sports Club, Tidewater Heart Association, Norfolk YMCA, Boy Scouts of America and the International Azalea Festival.

He also served on the boards of Old Dominion University and Virginia Wesleyan College.

In those decades, he was instrumental in building the Republican Party’s presence in Virginia Beach, and was a noted local volunteer in the campaigns of U.S. Rep. G. William Whitehurst, state Sen. Joseph Canada, Gov. John Dalton and U.S. Sen. John Warner.

He organized fundraising breakfasts for candidates that drew as many as 1,000 people.

He chaired the second district Republican Party for 2-1/2 terms, starting in 1980. He encouraged Bob Tata to run for a seat in the General Assembly; Tata has served as a delegate since 1984.

Barney also was an avid golfer. Through all his activities, he treasured the many friends he made.

After retiring in 1992, he focused on the arts. He began as a board member for Virginia Opera, where he was a leading fundraiser and served on the executive committee until 2001.

As the second president of Virginians for the Arts, a statewide lobbying group formed in 1992 to save state funding for the Virginia Commission for the Arts, he is credited for saving the group in 1996 by securing a capable staff. He was a state arts commissioner from 1999 to 2004, then resumed lobbying legislators for arts funding. He was valued for his ability to appeal to both sides of the aisle.

He won many awards, including the Vianne B. Webb Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999 from the Cultural Alliance of Greater Hampton Roads. He was commended by the General Assembly in 2006 as a notable patron of the arts.

His final project, helping to transform Suffolk High School into the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, was dear to him. He was a top fundraiser for the center, which opened in 2006.

In recent years, Carolyn and Barney appreciated the loving assistance of caregivers. The family will always be grateful to Rosemary, Katie, Amy, Pam, Yarelis, Nelleke, Christian, Vince, Debbie, Kari and Kia and to the staff of Hospice and Palliative Care of Tidewater for their kindness and competence.

Barney lost his beloved wife of 63 years in May 2011.

He is survived by two daughters, Teresa Annas and her husband, David Simpson, of Norfolk, and Carolyn A. Kelsey and her husband, Sidney Harrison Kelsey Jr., of Virginia Beach; and two grandchildren, Sidney Harrison Kelsey III and Anne Calvert Kelsey, both of Virginia Beach. He also is survived by his siblings, Jack Annas of Virginia Beach, James Annas of Kernersville, N.C., Linda James of Midlothian, and Pat Annas of Chesapeake, plus many beloved nieces, nephews and cousins.

Family visitation is set for 2 to 4 p.m. Friday at R.W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home and Crematory, 509 W. Washington St., Suffolk. The funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday at the same location, with the Rev. Michael Turner officiating.

Memorial donations may be made to the nonprofit arts group or charity of your choice.