EASLEY—Most Easley residents will remember Garnet Barnes for his lasting impact on the community, but others remember him for his friendship.
“He was a good close friend of mine,” Easley Mayor Larry Bagwell said. “We spoke often at Joe’s coffee shop (Joe’s Ice Cream morning crowd that gathers for coffee) and this is just a tremendous loss for the City of Easley.”
Born in Pickens County in 1924, Barnes attended Easley High School where he received a diploma was inducted to the Easley Athletic Hall of Fame. Throughout his secondary education, Barnes he attended Furman University and various real estate and insurance schools. The Easley native was also a U.S. Army veteran, having served in WWII.
Barnes was the founder of Barnes Real Estate, Inc. and Barnes Insurance Agency, Inc. He was also affiliated with Pinnacle Associates and was co-founder of Smithfields Country Club and Golf Club.
“Garnet Barnes is synonymous with the City of Easley,” Bagwell said. “He has done so much. His real estate and insurance business created such an economic boom for the city and he has been involved in so many ways.”
Barnes served on various committees. These include Deacon for First Baptist Church of Easley, where he has been a member for seventy-eight years; Trustee of Furman University; member of the Board of Trustees of the Baptist Health Care System for twenty-seven years; founding member of the Palmetto Health Board of Directors; one of the Founders and Director of Peoples National Bank; member of the South Carolina State Development Board; recipient of the Order of the Palmetto; past president of Pickens County Country Club and Smithfields Country Club.
“Barnes had already built quite a reputation in the Easley community before I personally became acquainted with him,” Sen. Larry Martin said. “He was tremendous supporter of Easley community and the greater Pickens County area in a variety of ways. He was very much at the center of anything that was going on to make progress in our community.”
Martin said Barnes personified what it means to have an impact on your local community.
“He’s going to be missed,” Martin said. “That type of involvement is such a tremendous example for others. We’ve got a good generation of leaders coming along, but he was someone that we will really miss.”