His high school sweetheart and wife of 57 years, Patricia Ann Humphries, survives him. Bill and Pat were engaged at Christmas of their senior year in high school and married a month after graduation. Bill and his bride moved to Carbon Hill where he worked with his father, E. J. “Pete” Barnes, in the newly opened Barnes Grocery. Known as “Billy” in high school, Pat has continued to reference him by this name through their marriage and today he is known to his friends as “Bill” and to his employees as “Mr. Bill.” Pat and Bill frequently talked by telephone during the workday and both always ended the conversation with the three simple words, “I love you.”
Their children, Marlene Barnes Marion and her husband Gray of Charleston, W. Va., William Alan Barnes and his wife Catherine of Marietta, Ga., Richard Jefferson Barnes and his wife Pamela of Carbon Hill, Christopher Lee Barnes and his wife Melissa of Tuscaloosa and his beloved friend, Butch Piester also survives him. He is also survived by his grandchildren Brandon Richard Barnes, Nancy Barnes Vickery and her husband Jarrod, Sara Katherine Barnes and Lindy Nicole Barnes and one great-grandchild Hannah Brooke Vickery. One brother, Henry Lewis Barnes and his wife, Jeanette, also survive him. He is predeceased by his father and mother, E. J. “Pete” Barnes and Sarah Peterson Barnes.
Bill was a 1954 graduate of Walker High School where he was an outstanding athlete, lettering in three sports, football, basketball and baseball. Carbon Hill was founded 124 years ago. In that time, Bill and Son’s holds the distinction of ranking third in longevity of continually operated businesses in Carbon Hill at 58 years. In 1954, Pete Barnes purchased a grocery business in Carbon Hill. In 1960, Bill and his father became partners until his father’s retirement in 1965. Bill and the late Son Humphries formed a partnership which expanded with the addition of Bill’s son Richard in 1980. In 1988, Bill and Richard opened one of North Alabama’s most modern and well-stocked supermarkets, Bill and Sons, which continues to employ hometown people and has been known for its friendly atmosphere.
Known for his attentiveness to his business, Bill left home early, worked late and was the consummate example and role model for a quality work ethic. He was known as a demanding and fair employer who taught his employees the importance hard work and customer service. Professionally, Bill served on the Board of Directors of Associated Grocers of the South for 25 years and retired as Chairman of the Board. In 1998, the Alabama Grocers Association named him Alabama Retailer of the Year. When Bill moved to Carbon Hill in 1954, he dedicated himself to the community, which was reflected by a life of dedicated service to his community and county. In 1955, he became a Charter Member of Carbon Hill’s National Guard Unit. For more than 50 years, Bill was an active member of First United Methodist Church where he has served as Chair of the Administrative Board and Sunday School Teacher. An avid supporter of Carbon Hill High School athletics, in 1961, a full-page feature in the Hilltop Echoes stated, “In Appreciation to Mr. Billy Barnes for the many hours he has given to the sports program of Carbon Hill High School.” This type of honor has been given to fewer than five individuals in the past 60 years. For 25 years, Bill filmed every high school football game for team education, with the exception of one game.
In 1963 he was named “Man of the Year” in Walker County. He served his community in numerous official capacities including being a member of the Carbon Hill Industrial Development Board, Carbon Hill Library Board, Carbon Hill Housing Authority Board, Neighborhood Commissioner of the Boy Scouts and Vice President of the Carbon Hill Chamber of Commerce. An ardent member of the Lions Club since 1950, Bill served as District Governor of Lions International, District Advisor of the Alabama Sight Conservation and held virtually every office in the Carbon Hill Lions Club. Bill was instrumental in the Carbon Hill Lions Club forming Alabama’s first Leo Club at Carbon Hill High School. While the life of Bill Barnes was filled with many honors and accolades he was most proud of his wife and children. Whether an outing in the family recreational vehicle, a day on the lake when the children were young, an Auburn football game with the family or a trip with his wife, Pat, these were the most special memorable moments in Bill’s life. Carbon Hill and Walker County have lost a friend and mentor.
Pallbearers are Jeff Stephens, Marc Stephens, Ken Guin, Ronnie Joe Ganey, Phillip Eads, Donald Laird, Steven Key and Kevin Adkins. Honorary Pallbearers are the past and present employees of Bill and Son’s Supermarket.
The funeral service will be conducted by Dr. Todd Henderson and held at Kilgore Green Funeral Home in Jasper, Alabama on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, at 3 p.m. Visitation will begin two hours before the service with burial at Walker Memory Gardens in Jasper. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Carbon Hill First United Methodist Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 578, Carbon Hill, Alabama 35549, or American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73123-1718, or New Beacon, Inc., 302 Blackwell Dairy Road, Jasper, AL 35504
Kilgore-Green Funeral Home, Jasper; 205-384-9503