Barnes spent his life helping other people
Barnes doing what he liked best, helping Century people
August 20, 2020
File photo by Joe Thomas
Former Century Mayor Benny Barnes died early Tuesday morning and is being remembered as a person who loved the city and especially loved the children who grew up in the community.
Barnes, 86, served on the Century Town Council from January, 1985 until January, 1989. He was appointed to filled the unexpired term of Mayor Eddie Ross, who died while serving as the city's mayor. Barnes went on to serve as Century's mayor from January, 1990 until December, 2003, when he decided not to run for re-election.
His wife, Edna Earle Barnes, said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will not be an immediate funeral.
"We talked about it," she said. "We're going to plan something in the future and have a celebration of his life."
Flomaton Funeral Home will be directing.
Barnes was a native of Chumuckla and grew up in Bonifay where he graduated from Bonifay High School.
Edna Earle grew up in Century and has lived there all her life. She and Benny both worked at Chemstram in Cantonment, got married and moved to Century in about 1961.
"He did a lot for Century," Edna Earle said. "He helped bring in the prison, developed the industrial park and brought in Starter Sportswear and Century nursing home."
She said while many remember her husband for his time as mayor, she said he loved the youth in Century and coached the younger kids in football.
"He and Lonnie Lashley followed those kids from when they were 8 years old until they graduated from high school," she said.
She also said he had a passion for winning, whether it was on the football field or at city hall.
"When he set out to do something, he wouldn't stop until it was accomplished," she said.
Flomaton Mayor Dewey Bondurant, Jr., said he considered Barnes a good friend and said Barnes gave him a lot of good advice over the years.
"He came to the store often and always had positive comments about Flomaton and the things we were doing," Bondurant said. "He always said 'keep your head up and keep going'."
Former Century Mayor Freddie Wayne McCall, Sr., echoed Bondurant's sentiments on Barnes.
"He did a fantastic job when he was in office," McCall said. "We all missed him when he left office and we'll miss him now. He left a legacy."
"I'm personally going to miss him," McCall added. "He was a personal friend and while I was mayor he helped me a lot."
McCall said the one thing you couldn't doubt was Barnes' love of Century.
"He traveled to Pensacola and Tallahassee trying to get things for Century," McCall said. "He wouldn't hesitate to call the governor or anybody else."
Catherine Jeter, whose husband served as a councilman during Barnes term, echoed some of McCall's sentiments.
"He always said 'if you don't ask, you don't get'," Mrs. Jeter said. "And he always asked."
Jeter worked with Barnes through the Century Chamber of Commerce and other projects and said Barnes had his hand in a lot of the improvements in Century, that included the new city hall.
"He made some people mad," Jeter said. "But in his own way he had Century at heart. He didn't do it for Benny Barnes, he did it for the people of Century."