By Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – A tremendous loss to the community and not just the school district is the way those who knew Anthony Barnes are describing his death.
Barnes, 38, who has served as assistant superintendent of the Water Valley School District for the past year, died Thursday at University Medical Center in Jackson after heart surgery.
Superintendent Sammy Higdon sent a letter Friday addressed to the educators in the district.
Higdon wrote, “There are some things in this world that, try as we may, just cannot be adequately done. One of those things, for me at least, is to express adequately what I feel about the passing of Anthony Barnes, assistant superintendent of our district.”
“Anthony was a man of exceptional warmth and wisdom, and his loss leaves a void in all our lives that will not be readily filled,” his letter continued. “God chose to pick one of his precious flowers. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Along with his duties as an educator, Barnes had served as a minister for 13 years. He was pastor of the Mt. Pleasant Church in Duck Hill and most recently pastor of the Spring Hill North Church of Water Valley.
School board member Taylor Trusty said that Barnes was an asset that our school is going to miss. “A lot of people want to say he was a role model for black children. That man was a role model for all children.”
“It’s not often that this community can get someone of his personal caliber,” Trusty added. “He’s going to be missed by the community as a whole.”
Barnes graduated in 1989 from Bentonia High in Yazoo County and played basketball at Ole Miss before transferring to Livingston University. His brother, Rod, was head coach of the Ole Miss basketball team from 1998 through 2006 and is currently head coach at Georgia State University.
Barnes began his teaching and coaching career in Yazoo County before coming to Water Valley as assistant principal from 2003 through 2006. He was briefly principal of North Panola High School before returning to Water Valley in July of 2007.
According to friends, he married his wife, Terri, in April of 2007. He leaves on daughter, Natanja Christion Barnes; his mother, Gladys Prayse Barnes, his brother, Rod; and sister, Carolyn Jones.
Services were held Tuesday at the Yazoo City High School with burial at Pilgrim Rest Cemetery at Satartia.
A memorial service was held Wednesday night at the Spring Hill North Church.