Dr. James E. Barnett, 92 - Marietta

Dr. James Earle Barnett died in his home on February 21, 2019.  An icon in the Greenville County medical community and devoted civic citizen, Dr. Barnett is survived by his daughters Lesha (John) Nix of Conyers, GA and Kimberly (Matt) Elliott of Greenville, SC; his daughter-in-law Annalynn Barnett of Greenville, SC; and his granddaughter Margaret Nix of San Francisco, CA. He is also survived by his brother George (Betty) Barnett of Easley, SC and many beloved sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews. Dr. Barnett was predeceased by his wife Alma Lee Barnett; daughter Melanie Ann Barnett; son James Earle Barnett Jr.; sister Frances (Lawrence) Buchanan; and brother Charles Barnett.

Born on November 2nd 1926, James was a fixture in the Marietta community where he worked on his family’s farm with his three siblings. He graduated Slater-Marietta High School (class of 1943) and entered Clemson University for one and a half years where he played on the Clemson Basketball team and trained in the Reserve Officer Training Corps. In 1945, he joined the United States Army and served in the first occupational forces in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Upon returning home, he re-entered Clemson University and finished pre-med in 1949.

His sense of adventure was cultivated in the Pacific, and after graduation, James decided to venture on a grand 11,000 mile journey to drive the newly paved Alaskan Highway with his dear friends and their 18-month old baby. This trip became a source of infinite stories of his resourcefulness and scrappiness.

In 1950, James married Alma Lee Murray and immediately moved to Charleston, SC for James to attend the Medical University of South Carolina. Following his internship in Greenville, SC, the couple settled in Travelers Rest and Dr. James Barnett began his work as a family physician with Doctors Landrum McCarrell and John Holliday. Serving many generations of Greenville County residents, Dr. Barnett was known for his meticulous and thorough care, as well as a keen eye for early detection of life threatening diseases.

Over the next decade, Dr. Barnett’s devotion to his patients and the community inspired him to become involved in local politics. After noticing that his patients were becoming gravely ill due to no sewer system and limited water lines, Dr. Barnett began petitioning for change. As a result, he ran for Mayor of Travelers Rest in 1969 on the platform of bringing much needed infrastructure - specifically a sewer system and clean water - to all parts of the community. During his two terms in office, he was successful in achieving his goal, and in the process, he passionately paved the way for the YMCA, the Travelers Rest Library and the Greenville Hospital System outpost - all to be realized after his terms in office. Given his focus on clean water, he was appointed and served on the governing board of the Western Carolina Regional Sewer Authority for 19 years, the last 5 years as chairman.

Dr. Barnett continued to invest in his community throughout his lifetime. He was a longtime member and leader in the Travelers Rest United Methodist Church (TRUMC) and served on the Blue Ridge Council Boy Scouts of America, along with many other civic organizations within the community. His passion for Clemson - especially Clemson football - never diminished, and he spent over 40 years as a stands’ doctor at Clemson Memorial Stadium.

After 50 years of practicing family medicine, Dr. Barnett retired at the age of 76 to Marietta, SC with Lee. Investing time in his favorite hobbies including auto-repair, gardening and woodworking at his one-man sawmill, he also found time to become involved in his Marietta community. Additionally, he spent the next 10 years caring for Lee who suffered from Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.

In 2018, to honor Dr. Barnett’s decades of service to Greenville County, the SC General Assembly renamed the US 276 (Greer Highway) and SC 288 (Pumpkintown Highway) intersection in Marietta in his honor. It is fitting that these roads lead to the patients and the mountains he so loved.

The family would like to extend their deep gratitude to the committed caregivers and friends who lovingly devoted themselves to Dr. Barnett every day over the past several years.

Funeral services will be held Monday, February 25 at Travelers Rest United Methodist Church at 3:00 p.m. The family will receive friends prior to the service at 1:30 p.m. Burial will be at Ebenezer Baptist Church Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Travelers Rest United Methodist Church, 19 S Main St, Travelers Rest, SC, 29690.

The family is at home.

Online condolences may be expressed here.

Howze Mortuary in Travelers Rest is in charge of arrangements.