Bassfield Sweethearts: Otho and Dorothy Barnes

By Shirley Burnham
Prentiss Headlight Correspondent

Otho and Dorothy Barnes are grateful to Alcorn College not only for the education they received but also for bringing them together–a guy from Bassfield and a girl from Louisville with a thirst for knowledge and destined by Providence to meet and fall in love.

“I met her in front of the cafeteria,” says Otho Barnes. “Then we guys couldn’t go any further than the sidewalk in front of the girls’ dorm.”

 Dorothy and Otho Barnes

Dorothy and Otho Barnes

After her first full year of teaching in the Wilkerson County School District Dorothy Barnes states the couple had a lovely outdoor wedding August 15, 1971 in her hometown of Louisville, Ms. The newlyweds lived with her mother for the first year then bought a small trailer to live in while they constructed the home on South Williamsburg Road where they still reside.

“We have always liked to cooperate and work together so we could succeed in what we try to do,” said Otho Barnes, and then continues with a grin, “But I always told her if she got ready to leave I was going with her.”

“I made $4,999 that first year I taught school,” stated Dorothy. “It sure wasn’t much, but we pooled our money and did without some things working on the house until late at night then going to work early the next morning.”

Education has been foremost in this dedicated couple’s life together. Otho Barnes attended Prentiss Institute before Alcorn. He received his BS in Agriculture Ed. and attended USM studying School Administration and Ag Mechanics. For the majority of 35 years he taught in the Marion County School District while Dorothy Barnes received her BS in Elementary Ed. and Masters in Special Ed. She continued studies at USM and William Carey and taught for 32 ½ years mostly in Marion County as well. “We have enjoyed every moment of teaching and helping children and never wanted to do anything else,” agreed the couple.

Otho and Dorothy Barnes have shared more than a home over the last 43 years of marriage. They have shared a bond of common goals committed to each other, the children they brought into this world, the children they taught, and their community. “I grew up in a big family so family has always been important to me,” states Dorothy Barnes. “We agreed before we had children that we would raise ours to support themselves and we have.”

Indeed, their children have carried on the tradition of education set before them by their parents. Daughter Bathsheba Dampeer serves the community as an RN at Jeff Davis County Hospital; Son Otho Jr. is a Chemical Engineer in New Orleans, and son Dr. Fronce Barnes owns a pharmacy in Mesquite, TX. The delight of their life, 3½-year-old grandson Miles Dampeer, has begun his journey in education at the Head Start in Progress.

Now retired the couple share a passion for community service. Dorothy Barnes is chairperson for five area churches, Holly Springs where both are active members, Blackmon Temple, Shorts Chapel, St. Paul, Sweetwater, Progress and New Jerusalem. Otho Barnes serves on the Jeff Davis County School Advisory Board and his wife is a mentor for new Jeff Davis County teachers. Both serve in various church and local civic organizations that specialize in community service.

These sweethearts complete each other, and we in Jeff Davis County are glad they chose to live here.