Lonnie Thomas Barnes Jr. affectionately known as Jack was born on June 3, 1920 in Norfolk, Virginia. He passed on May 15, 2019 in Wilmington, North Carolina in the presence of loving family members.
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Lonnie is the first child born of Lonnie Thomas Barnes Sr. and Mary Cutler Barnes. Lonnie Sr. started calling him Jack at an earlier age and the nick name became a life-long moniker.
Lonnie, a life-long member of St John’s AME Church, was active in the Church from an early age. Lonnie was active in Sunday School and as a member of Boy Scout Troop 76 achieving the rank of Life Scout. Lonnie continued his involvement in the life of the Church as an adult through his service on the Junior Steward Board and as an adult advisor to Troop 76 and Explorer Post 76. As an adult he continued to participate in and enjoy Sunday School. Lonnie was recognized by the Pastor and men of St John’s at their inaugural Legacy Recognition Banquet for his contributions of time and treasure to St. John’s. At the time of such recognition he was the oldest male member of the church.
Lonnie was educated in the public schools of the City of Norfolk, VA. He attended J. C. Price Elementary School and Booker T. Washington for both Jr. High and High School where he graduated in January of 1937. While at Booker T. Washington he was active in athletics and developed a life-long thirst for learning, among other things, becoming an avid reader of books ranging from the classic literature to science fiction to dime store western novels to the modern 20th century novel, just to pass the time. Lonnie’s pursuits in High School also included his responsibilities as a trusted employee in the family business – Barnes Bakery – owned and operated by Lonnie Sr. Lonnie’s daily responsibilities included early morning preparation and heating the ovens for the day, after which it was off to school before the morning bell. Lonnie worked at both store locations on Church Street and Chapel Avenue often closing at night. Lonnie often remarked that during the tough times of the depression and its aftermath the only meal many enjoyed came from the bakery, sometimes at no cost. During his spare time Lonnie also managed a successful paper route carrying the Norfolk Journal and Guide newspaper on a weekly basis.
Upon graduation from high school, Lonnie enrolled in the Norfolk Division of Virginia Union College (now Norfolk State University) until 1939. Upon leaving college Lonnie gained employment at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and became an apprentice in the shipyard’s machinist apprentice program until 1944. It is during these years at the shipyard that he met the person who would later become his life-long companion, sole mate, best friend, partner and wife, Florence Mildred Palmer.
In 1944 Lonnie was called into military service in defense of his country. Lonnie joined the United States Navy on May 20, 1944 and served until February 23, 1946. Lonnie was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Station and at the Naval Air Station at Roddfield, Texas. Lonnie achieved the rank of Boatswain’s Mate A, Second Class which required him to perform administrative duties as a barracks master-at-arms, enforce discipline, station rules and regulations, and naval laws as well as take charge of incoming enlisted men. During his time of duty at Great Lakes Lonnie married Florence Mildred Palmer on November 10, 1944 which began a journey for the two of them, an equally yoked couple of almost 75 years. From the point of marriage Lonnie and Florence were never separated moving together from Great Lakes, Illinois to Roddfield, Texas and then back home to Portsmouth and Norfolk, Virginia.
Upon his honorable discharge Lonnie went back to the shipyard but stayed only a few months until he was hired by the United States Postal Service. Wanting to build upon his supervisory skills developed in
the Navy Lonnie pursued a career in the Post Office as a manager first by taking and passing the supervisory exam with the highest score amongst his peers in 1961. After assuming his first supervisory position Lonnie continued to advance through the ranks eventually becoming a Tour Superintendent of Mails, Norfolk VA, at the main post office facility in Norfolk. Whenever Lonnie was in the building he supervised all mail operations. His duties also included evaluating other postal employees for managerial positions. Lonnie held that position until retirement. After a total of 39 years in government service Lonnie retired on January 11, 1980.
Lonnie was active in the Tidewater community as a Mason, being a member of the Campbell Lodge, No. 67 A.F. & A. M., Norfolk, Virginia, the What’s Civic and Social Club and the Senior Golfers of Virginia. Lonnie served as president of both the What’s and the Senior Golfers of Virginia. During his retirement Lonnie played golf up and down the east coast and earned a U.S.G.A handicap of 16. He also served as a Marshall at Bide-A-Wee Golf Course in Portsmouth, Virginia close to the family home in Cavalier Manor. Lonnie gave up all golfing activities to devote time and attention to his wife Florence. His daily devotion to her continued until his own health began to fail.
Lonnie is survived by his wife Florence Palmer Barnes, two sons, Lonnie Thomas Barnes III and wife Carol Barnes, and Barry Milton Barnes and wife Michelle Swain Barnes, nine grandchildren, nine great grandchildren, his two sisters Lois Barnes Archer and Maxine Barnes, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends across generations. Lonnie is preceded in death by his parents Lonnie Sr. and Mary Cutler Barnes. Lonnie was a devoted son, brother, husband, father, uncle, cousin and friend. His wit, humor, thoughtfulness, intellect, and love will be sorely missed.