Jim C. Barnett, M.D.

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, July 28, 2013

Jim C. Barnett, M.D., of Brookhaven, 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.

Funeral services for Dr. Barnett will be at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 30, at First United Methodist Church with burial in Riverwood Memorial Park. Lying in state will be held at the church from 9 to 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Visitation is Monday from 5 to 9 p.m. at Riverwood Family Funeral Services.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Dr. Barnett, was born Dec. 8, 1926, in Edinburg, 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 “Hoddy Toddy” and follow it up with a loud “Go Rebs!”

Dr. Jim joined the U.S. Navy Dec. 9, 1943, the day after his 17th birthday. He served in combat as a Navy Flight Surgeon with Fighter Air Group 15 during the Korean War, where he served aboard the aircraft carrier the USS 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 36 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 more than 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 12 years as chairman of Mississippi Aeronautics Commission, 13 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 its 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 as 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 the Appropriations Committee, chairman of Community Colleges Appropriations, Public Health and Welfare, Universities and Colleges, and vice-chairman of Military Affairs and the 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 10,000 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 13 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 and sons, Jim “Jimmy” Barnett, in 2000, and Christopher “Chris” Barnett, in 2002.

He is survived by his wife, Roberta, of Brookhaven; his son, Alex Barnett, of Dumfries, Va.; his son James “Jim” Matthews, of Manheim, Pa.; son, Richard Barnett, of Easley, S.C.; daughter, Ellen Gerland, of Brenham, Texas; son Patrick Barnett, of Anderson, S.C.; son, Glen Matthews, of Baytown, Texas; son, Mark Barnett, of Benton, Ark.; son; John Barnett, of Moseley, Va.; son, Paul Barnett, of Brookhaven; 26 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; and several thousand Red Fish who “got away.”

To express your thoughts to the family, you may visit www.riverwoodfamily.com and click on his name to leave a comment.