Margaret Nena Barnes

Published 4:14 pm Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Margaret Nena Barnes, also known as “Wawa” or “Peggy,” died in her sleep surrounded by her family on Jan. 2, 2022, at the University of Virginia Medical Hospital in Charlottesville. She was born on Sept. 29, 1952, at Portsmouth Naval Hospital to James Clinton Barnes Sr. and Magdalena Villondo Barnes. 

Margaret was educated in the public schools of Suffolk. She graduated in 1970, from John F. Kennedy High School with honors. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Colby College located in Waterville, Maine; Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor and Specialist in Aging Certificate from the University of Michigan and Wayne State University Institute of Gerontology.

During Margaret’s lifetime, she worked at Western Tidewater Health Center, University of Michigan Undergraduate School, Hampton University, Virginia Union University, Norfolk State University and the Center for Employment Training in various positions such as professor, counselor, coordinator, project manager, social worker and director. She also owned MNB Consulting Firm providing consulting to various federal agencies including the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).


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Margaret enjoyed traveling and reading and was an avid MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow viewer. She loved watching old movies, especially cowboy westerns, solving crossword puzzles and Sudoku, bowling and playing pool and card games (Spades, Bid Whist, Hearts, Solitary, and Phase 10).

Margaret was affiliated with the Suffolk Chapter of the Links Incorporated and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (Epsilon Omega Mid-Atlantic), Hollywood Civic League and National Association For The Advancement of Colored People (lifetime membership). She also was involved in a variety of community services such as working with Toys for Kids, health fairs, fundraising for worthy causes, voter registration, National Night Out, Suffolk Night Stay Program and the Reading is Fundamental Program. Early on, she was very instrumental in researching and helping many people obtain their COVID-19 vaccination appointments and continued to be a point of contact to disseminate information on the various locations where the vaccinations were being administered. She was very active on various local, state and national political campaigns. She enjoyed going to Saint Paul’s Episcopal, Saint Mark’s Episcopal and many other churches in the Tidewater area. At Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church, she was a member of the Vestry, Altar Guild, and Episcopal Church Women, served as a coordinator of the Episcopal Youth Community and Acolytes and worked tirelessly with the Outreach Program.

She devoted a great deal of her time in the lives of her nieces and nephews. She treated them as if they were her own. She was happiest when she was surrounded by her family and friends. In return, she brought them much love, happiness, joy, enthusiasm, support and encouragement. Anyone who knew Margaret was touched by her acts of kindness and generosity. She was always putting others ahead of herself and was always a source of positivity. The word “NO” was never an option. She would say, “You will never know the answer unless you ask the question and never take ‘no’ for an answer.” She was very knowledgeable in a variety of areas and as an educator, she had a tremendous influence on her nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. She was sought out by many for speaking engagements. Margaret was fluent in Spanish and served as our family’s Spanish interpreter. Our sister, Margaret, above all these things, was a “fighter” and an “angel” to many. She was greatly loved and will be truly missed.

Margaret is mourned by her mother, Magdalena Villondo Barnes, of the home; sisters, Michelle B. Sydney (Vincent), of Hampton, Patricia B. Edwards (Jerald), of Norfolk, Theresa H. Barnes, of Grapevine, Texas, Rosa B. Bowe and Vonnie L. Barnes, both of Suffolk; brothers, Ray S. Barnes, of Grapevine, Texas, and Carlito I. Barnes, of Suffolk; sister-in-law, Renee Barnes, of Hampton; aunts, Virginia Florendo, of California, Yvonne Willis, Brenda Parker, Diane Darling and Bonnie Parker, of New Jersey, Stella Saunders, of Arizona; uncles, Benedito Iraola, of the Philippines, Wilbur Parker (Delores), of Delaware, and Abdul Leonard Saunders, of Arizona; and nephews, nieces, great-nephews, great-nieces, cousins and friends.

She was preceded in death by her father, James Clinton Barnes Sr.; grandparents, Irvin and Prophetess Morgan Barnes (Gronice), and Pedro and Delores Iraola; brother, James Clinton Barnes Jr.; brother-in-law, Kenneth Aaron Bowe Sr.; aunts and uncles, Policarpo Iraola, Mercedes and Vincente Baustata, Clarita Millan Iraola, Emillio Florendo, Adolph Parker, Alonzo Willis, William Darling, Victoria B. Davis, Willie and Eleanor Barnes Sr., Ernest and Virgie Barnes, Marie B. and David Sparrow, Mccoy Barnes, Sarah Barnes, Edward and Viola Barnes and William and Alease Barnes.

Due to the pandemic, the family funeral service will be private. Margaret Barnes will be laid to rest at Carver Memorial Cemetery. A memorial celebration will be held at a future date. Professional services with dignity have been entrusted to Crocker Funeral Home Inc. at 900 E. Washington St.