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Jim C. Barnett Obituary
Jim C. Barnett, M.D.


Jim C. Barnett, M.D., 86, of Brookhaven, Mississippi, passed away quietly Friday, July 26, 2013 at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson with his wife of 50 years, Roberta and several family members at his side. He will lie in state 9:00-10:00 and service will be 10 am, Tuesday, July 30 at First United Methodist Church of Brookhaven. Visitation will be 5:00 - 9:00 Monday evening at Riverwood Family Funeral Service. Interment will be at Riverwood Memorial Park.

Dr. Barnett, was born December 8, 1926 in Edinburg, Mississippi, the only child of Jim, Sr. and Euna Barnett. He graduated from Tylertown High School, attended Millsaps College, Tulane University and the University of Mississippi School of Medicine. He received his Medical Degree from the Southwestern Medical College of the University of Texas in 1949.

An avid Ole Miss fan, Dr. Jim, as he was known to his family and friends, was quick to join in a spirited chorus of Hoddie Toddie and follow it up with a loud "Go Rebs!"

Dr. Jim joined the U.S. Navy December 9, 1943, the day after his 17th birthday. He served in combat as a Navy Flight Surgeon with Fighter Air Group Fifteen during the Korean War, where he served aboard the aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Princeton, CV37. He received two Battle Stars and was recommended for the Navy Cross.

With a specialty in Family Practice and General Surgery, Dr. Jim practiced medicine in Lincoln County for thirty-six years. During this time he served as Chief of Staff of Kings Daughters Hospital and as president of the South Central Medical Society. For several years he was a clinical instructor at the University Medical Center in Jackson.

In 1990 Dr. Jim became the president of Southern Medical Association, the second largest multi-specialty medical organization in the world, with over 60,000 members.

Combining his strong sense of civic duty with his passion for patient care, Dr. Jim had the great honor of meeting with and advising on healthcare issues every U.S. President from Lyndon Johnson to the current administration.

It was the role of country doctor Dr. Jim relished the most. He made many a house call in and around the Lincoln County area and delivered quite a few newborns into the world of south central Mississippi. His black doctor's bag was always at the ready.

Dr. Barnett's involvement in state government includes twelve years as Chairman of Mississippi Aeronautics Commission, thirteen years and twice Chairman of the State Board of Mental Health, the largest agency of state government in Mississippi. The Board of Mental Health honored Dr. Jim and showed their appreciation by naming a new mental health facility "The Jim C. Barnett, M.D. Homes" in Brookhaven. Dr. Jim also served as Chairman of the State Health Coordinating Council and a Director on the Board of the Mississippi Economic Council.

Dr. Jim served in the Mississippi House of Representatives, serving District 92, from 1992 to 2008. He served as Secretary of Appropriations, Chairman of Community Colleges Appropriations, Public Health and Welfare, Universities and Colleges, Vice-Chairman of Military Affairs and Game and Fish Committee.

The Game and Fish Committee assignment was very special to Dr. Jim. As an avid outdoorsman, he loved hunting, fishing and conservation of the great outdoors. He was rarely happier than when he had a fishing pole in hand.

For many years, Dr. Jim was a leading force in aviation in Mississippi. Locally he served as Chairman of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Airport Board. In 1986 the new Brookhaven Airport terminal building was named The Jim C. Barnett Terminal Building.

As a commercial rated pilot with over ten thousand hours of flight time, Dr. Jim flew everything from a small Piper Cub to the Concorde. His favorite aviation accomplishment was piloting the Supersonic Concorde jet while he and Roberta enjoyed the very first around-the-world transit of this iconic aircraft.

In 1979, Dr. Jim was appointed to the Mississippi Board of Mental Health and served on this board for thirteen years. His leadership and devotion to the needs of individuals with mental health and substance abuse made immeasurable impact on the lives of Mississippians.

Dr. Jim and Roberta are members of the First United Methodist Church where he has served as Chairman of the Administrative Board and as a member of the Board of Trustees.

Dr. Jim was preceded in death by his parents, son Jim (Jimmy) Barnett in 2000 and son Christopher (Chris) Barnett in 2002. He is survived by his wife Roberta of Brookhaven, Mississippi, his son Alex Barnett of Dumfries, Virginia, his son James (Jim) Matthews of Manheim, Pennsylvania, son Richard Barnett of Easley, South Carolina, daughter Ellen Gerland of Brenham, Texas, son Patrick Barnett of Anderson, South Carolina, son Glen Matthews of Baytown, Texas, son Mark Barnett of Benton, Arkansas, son John Barnett of Moseley, Virginia, son Paul Barnett of Brookhaven Mississippi, twenty-six grandchildren, sixteen great grandchildren and several thousand Red Fish who "got away".

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Published in Clarion Ledger on July 28, 2013
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