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1631 Church Street
Phone: 757-622-1085
Fax: 757-624-1508
Florence Barnes

Florence Mildred Palmer Barnes (Palmer)

Saturday, September 16th, 1922 - Monday, June 15th, 2020
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Florence Mildred Palmer Barnes
Florence Mildred Palmer Barnes was born September 16, 1922 in Capron, Southampton County, Virginia. She passed on June 15, 2020 in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Florence is the third child born of Howard Palmer and Addie Williams Palmer of Capron, Virginia. Having lost her parents at an early age she was reared by her grandparents Edward and Miranda Williams on the family’s sharecropper farm. Growing up amongst her two siblings, Elnora and Worthen, and a host of uncles and aunts, Florence was the youngest and petit. Therefore, she was given the nickname “Little Bit”.

Florence was educated in the public schools of Southampton County and Portsmouth, Virginia. After attending I. C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth for a brief period of time she returned to Southampton County public schools where she graduated from high school at the Southhampton County Training School. The school which provided a high school education for black students in the county was opened in 1937 outside of Courtland, Virginia. Upon graduation she enrolled in Virginia State College in Petersburg, VA. After a short stay in college, Florence was forced to leave the college because of financial reasons. Upon leaving college she began working in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth. It is there that she would meet the person who would later become her life-long companion, sole mate, best friend, partner, care giver and husband, Lonnie Thomas Barnes, Jr. of Norfolk, VA.

When Lonnie joined the United States Navy on May 20, 1944 Florence joined him in Chicago, Illinois while he was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Station. It is there they were married on November 10, 1944. which began a journey for the two of them, an equally yoked couple, of almost 75 years until Lonnie’s death on May 15, 2019. 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 Norfolk and Portsmouth until Lonnie’s death.

After the navy they returned home. Lonnie resumed his membership and activities with St. John’s AME Church as it was the Barnes family church and Florence joined St. John’s and became an active member herself. She was engaged in numerous activities of the church including Stewardess Board #4, the Usher Board, the Bereavement Ministry, Vacation Bible School and the Nannie C. Phelps Women’s Missionary Society, among others. In the year 2000, for Woman’s Day celebration on April 9 of that year, she was named Woman of the Decade.

During their marriage and her career, Florence had a myriad of jobs serving in various capacities. She often referred to them as little jobs but they were nonetheless vitally important to their family. She held positions as varied as an elevator operator in the old Ames & Brownley department store on Granby Street in Norfolk to a teacher’s aide at Douglass Park Elementary School in Portsmouth, from which she retired. But her number one job and commitment, from which she never wavered, was creating and sustaining a healthy, wholesome household based on principals of love and respect and a belief in and acceptance of God for the benefit of herself, her husband and most crucially her two young sons. Florence embodied a humble spirit and modeled her beliefs to anyone who paid attention. She honored her mother and her father which honor was extended to her in-laws Lonnie and Mary Barnes. She was a virtuous woman.

Florence is survived by her two sons, Lonnie Thomas Barnes III and wife Carol Barnes, and Barry Milton Barnes and wife Michelle Swain Barnes, nine grandchildren, nine great grandchildren, her older sister Elnora Anderson, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends across generations. Florence is preceded in death by her husband Lonnie Thomas Barnes, Jr., her older brother Worthen Palmer, her parents Addie and Howard Palmer. Florence was a devoted wife, mother, daughter, sister, granddaughter daughter-in-law, niece, aunt, cousin and friend. Her tenderness, motherly wit, thoughtfulness, nurturing spirit, and love will be sorely missed.
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Service Details

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  • Visitation

    Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020 | 2:00pm - 6:00pm
    Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020 2:00pm - 6:00pm
    Graves Funeral Home
    1631 Church St.
    Norfolk, VA 23504
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    Wednesday, June 24th, 2020 | 11:00am
    Wednesday, June 24th, 2020 11:00am
    Graves Funeral Home Chapel
    1631 Church St
    Norfolk, VA 23504
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Woodlawn Memorial Gardens
    6309 East Virginia Beach Blvd.
    Norfolk, VA 23502
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Lance and Sylvia Williams and Family sent flowers to the family of Florence Mildred Palmer Barnes (Palmer).
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Yvonne M. Davis

Posted at 03:17pm
My heartfelt sympathy to the Barnes Family I will always remember the kind ,soft spoken, lovely and generous lady she was Florence, ,Jack , my husband Eddie and I were friends for a very long time, sharing good times at church , and in our homes, belonging to the same fellowship group we often shared family stories and activities filled with laughter and love, may God continue to bless you and know that there are many others that share in the loss of your love one. Yvonne M. Davis

Clarence Fletcher

Posted at 11:30am
May You Rest In Heavenly Peace Mrs. Florence Mildred Palmer Barnes. May GOD Almighty Provide Strength For Your Family In This Time Of Mourning. Peace, Clarence D. Fletcher.

Margaret Sills

Posted at 07:33am
Our condolences to the Barnes family in the loss of their mother. She was a jewel to her family and children. May God grant you peace and understanding if this difficult time. Margaret Sills-Allen (I.C. Norcom class of 1968)

Lance and Sylvia Williams and Family

Posted at 01:39pm
With prayers, love, and heartfelt condolences
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Lance and Sylvia Williams and Family purchased flowers for the family of Florence Barnes. Send Flowers


Rev. Marvette Hines DeCree

Posted at 05:32pm
To the Barnes Family: Ms. Florence and Mr. Jack have been a fond part of my growing up at St John's AME Church Norfolk & visiting my Uncle in Cavalier Manor. Never thought I'd be a neighbor & blessed to share home visits during the beginning of my ministry. Those Sunday visits/& communion are engraved in my heart forever. May God strengthen you, Christ love surround you and the Holy spirit comfort you in the days to come. With love and peace , Rev Marvette Hines DeCree & Mr& Mrs. Marvin and Willette Hines and Family

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