Jacksonville loses town historian
Last week, Jacksonville lost a man who was referred to by many as the “town historian.”

Homer Lee Barnwell, 88, died Feb. 18 at his home.

“There’s no question about it,” said Jerry Klug. “We lost a lot of history; we lost a treasure. He really kept track of Jacksonville’s history and we benefited from that. He was part of the Jacksonville Historical Society and was always available if we had questions for him.”

Mr. Barnwell collaborated with Pulitzer Prize winning author Rick Bragg on several of Bragg’s books.

When contacted at his home in Tuscaloosa, Bragg said that Mr. Barnwell was a “living history. He loved his people with all his great heart. His passing would be even sadder if it were not for the countless stories he gave us. I am a better man for knowing him.”

Services were at 2 p.m. Thursday at K. L. Brown Funeral Home and Cremation Center Chapel. Revs. Leslee Bailey and Bruce Johnson officiated. Burial was in Jacksonville City Cemetery.

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Reba Tillery Barnwell of Jacksonville; a daughter and son-in-law, Sandra and Clay Smith of Jacksonville; a son and daughter-in-law, Mike and Pam Barnwell of Jacksonville; a sister and brother-in-law, Lola and Calvin Lyons of Brunswick, Ga.; a brother, Carl Barnwell of Jacksonville; three grandchildren, Christy Stewart, Preston Barnwell and Megan Parris, all of Jacksonville; two great-grandchildren, Brody and Jake Barnwell of Jacksonville and numerous nieces and nephews.

Pallbearers were family and friends.

Mr. Barnwell liked history, old photographs and collecting military books and photographs of anyone in uniform. He served in World War II with the First Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge and the invasion of Normandy. He retired from the utilities department. He attended Tredegar Chapel Congregational Holiness Church, where he enjoyed brotherhood breakfasts. He enjoyed visiting all churches.

He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Bertha (Crim) Barnwell; three sisters, Evelyn Hulsey, Ethel Hardy and Carrie Cross; and one brother, William Barnwell.

Donations may be made to New Beacon Hospice, 1419 Leighton Ave., Anniston 36207 or  charity of choice.
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