Warren Meadows Funeral Home, LLC
Alton Raymond Barnhill
(May 24, 1918 - April 30, 2013)
Alton Raymond Barnhill, a retired local businessman and the 2006 inductee into the Sabine Hall of Fame died at Sabine Rehabilitation and Retirement Center, Tuesday, April 30 with family members by his side. Mr. Barnhill had resided at SRRC over two years and had endeared himself to the administration, nurses and staff. He rolled his wheelchair up and down the halls, greeting everyone and singing. His condition worsened and he was bedridden for a week, prior to his death. He suffered from age-related dementia. Funeral services were held Saturday, May 4 at the First United Methodist Church of Many at 10 a.m. The Rev. Ray Spiller, former pastor, and the church pastor, the Rev. Elaine Burleigh officiated. Carole Troha and Patsy McCormic sang “In The Garden” and “Ring Them Golden Bells”. His favorite scripture, Psalms 23, was read from the Bible. Visitation was held Friday, May 3, 2013, beginning at 4:00 p.m. for the family and from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. for the public at Warren Meadows Funeral Home. Serving as pallbearers were Pete Abington, Robert Ammons, David Barnhill, Don Burkett, Robert Gentry and Dean Lambert. Honorary pallbearers were I.D. Bostian, John Curtis, Willard Dewitt, W.E. “Boots” Hayes and Ken Simmons. Burial was in the Many Cemetery under the direction of the Warren Meadows Funeral Home. He is survived by his wife, Lois A. Barnhill of Many; two sons, Dr. Raymond L. Barnhill and wife, Claire, of Los Angeles, California and Derek W. Smith of Many; one daughter, Donna Smith Ammons and husband, Kenneth of Many; one brother, Randy W. Barnhill and wife, Madeline, of Shreveport; three grandchildren, David Heath Ammons and wife, Kt, of Zachary; Paul Kenneth Ammons of Lafayette; and Karen Ammons Warren of Bossier City; three great-grandchildren, Riley Kate Ammons and Braeden Sean Ammons, both of Zachary, and Lauren Elizabeth Warren of Bossier City. He was preceded in death by his parents, Alvin and Minnie Crump Barnhill of Mt. Zion; two sisters, Julie B. Lites and Evon Barnhill; and one brother, Don V. Barnhill; and his first wife, Gladys Litton Barnhill. He is also survived by a host of nieces, nephews and friends. In lieu of flowers, the family requested that any donations be made to Troop 80, Many Boy Scouts of America. Barnhill’s son, Ray, and two grandsons, David and Paul Ammons, were all Eagle Scouts, of which he was very proud. Donations may be sent to Scoutmaster Kenneth Ammons, Many Boy Scouts, 305 Cobb Drive, Many, La. 71449.
Raymond Barnhill Once described as a “pillar of the community” by a member of the Sabine Hall of Fame Board of Directors, Barnhill carved out a successful career in the construction, oil and tire businesses and served his community by serving on the Many Town Council from 1957-1965. He served under two mayors, John Tarver and Virginia Gaddis Godfrey, and was Mayor Pro Tem from 1961-65. He was also active in the Sabine Parish Chamber of Commerce, serving on the Industrial Committee. A faithful and religious man, Barnhill had been a member of the First Baptist Church of Many since 1946. He was an active deacon from 1964-1996, when he was named Deacon Emeritus. Alton Raymond Barnhill was born on May 24, 1918 in Marthaville to A.T. and Minnie Barnhill. He was the oldest of four children. His siblings were the late Julie B. Lites and the late Don V. Barnhill. The only surviving child is his younger brother, Randy W. Barnhill of Shreveport. Barnhill and his siblings were raised on a small farm, which raised cotton, corn and sugar cane and raised chickens and cows, in Marthaville. Since he was the oldest he had many responsibilities and following school, he did his chores. He and brother Don would slip down to the old swimming hole on hot days and enjoyed fishing and hunting together. The Barnhill boys were raised in the “good old days” when the children rode a mule-drawn wagon to school, dated on horseback and cut cane switches for fishing poles. At Marthaville High School, he pitched and played first base on the baseball team. Following graduation in 1936, he farmed a plot of land given to him by his father. He planted cotton and ended up with one bale. Realizing he needed to further his education, he sold his saddle horse, Nancy, to former Sheriff George R. Cook and used the money to enroll in Norton Business College in Shreveport. After studying the latest business techniques, he interviewed for the accountant position at Many Lumber Co. with the owner, who lived in Bossier City. He was hired, rode the bus to Many on Saturday and went to work on Monday. In a previous interview, he recalled that all the single men lived in rooming houses and ate at the American Café. In 1941, he married Gladys Mable Litton of Pleasant Hill. Military Service On May 18, 1942, he was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Corps, where he served in the South Atlantic, the European Theatre of Operations and the South Pacific Theatre of Operations from 1942-46. He completed his basic training at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi and was transferred to Fort Logan, Colorado, where he enrolled in clerical school. Following the completion of school, he was transferred to New York Port of Embarkation and was shipped to South America, where he was assigned to the South Atlantic Wing of Air Transport Command. During the next two years, he worked in the Adjutant General’s Office in Headquarters. During his time in South America he was promoted to staff sergeant and to warrant officer, junior grade. Upon his return to the states on the rotation plan, he was assigned to the Quartermaster Corps in Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky briefly and then assigned to Fort Knox, where he was Battalion Personnel Officer of the 228th Quartermaster Battalion. From Fort Knox he was given orders to go to the Port of Embarkation in New York and was shipped out to LeHarve, France. He and his buddies spent four weeks in France and then were transferred to Herferd, Germany where he was stationed when the Germans surrendered. In late May 1945, he shipped out from France, traveling through the Panama Canal, sailing on the equator for 30 days and arriving in Manila on Sept. 12. For the next three months he stayed in the Philipines, before shipping out to San Francisco. He and his buddies sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge in the early hours of Dec. 31, 1945. During that journey, he was promoted to chief warrant officer on a general order signed by Gen. Douglas McArthur, Supreme Allied Commander of the Pacific. Barnhill rode a troop train to Texas, where he was given an honorable discharge. He returned to Shreveport, where his wife resided during his service. Following his return, they moved back to Sabine Parish. Barnhill and his brother, Don, went into the heavy equipment business, establishing Barnhill Brothers. He served as president of the general contracting business from 1947-63. The business did construction work in Sabine Parish, offering grading, dirt work and excavation. In 1950, they expanded and did highway and bridge construction on a statewide basis. The Barnhill’s only child, Ray L. Barnhill, was born in January 1950. The construction business prospered and in 1964, when housing in Many was critical, Barnhill saw the need to contract the construction of homes. He purchased land on the Middle Creek Road and built a number of homes. Subsequently, the housing addition was named the Barnhill Addition. It was the first FHA-approved subdivision in Sabine Parish. He also became involved in real estate in Many and around Toledo Bend Lake. In the early 1960s, he entered the oil producing business. He founded B & B Oil and served as its president. During the oil boom, the company drilled about 50 wells, with half striking oil. He saw oil sell for $2.95 per barrel to $38 per barrel during his career. He drilled the first independent oil well in the parish. For nine years, 1966-1975, he served as president of Barnhill Bros. Mobil Oil Distributor, operated Barnhill Brothers Goodyear Tire and Service Center with his brother, Don, and continued in construction and oil. Barnhill’s brother, Don, was a partner in all of the ventures except the oil business. In the late 1970s, they began selling their businesses and property and in 1982 sold everything and retired. Barnhill was 64-years-old. Over the years, Barnhill was active in the American Legion and served as commander in 1947; the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Many Lions Club. Barnhill lost his wife after a battle with cancer in March 1975. He remarried on Dec. 4, 1975 to Lois A. Smith, who lost her husband to cancer in Jan. 1975. The couple was introduced by Don and Eloise Barnhill and love blossomed. Over the years, family has been important. His son, Ray, received his medical degree from Duke University following his undergraduate degree from Tulane University in New Orleans. He does research in dermatopathology and melanoma at UCLA in Los Angeles. His wife, Claire, who graduated from the University of Paris, Faculty of Medicine, is also a physician and also does melanoma research at UCLA. The couple travels extensively and have resided in Paris, her native land. Dr. Barnhill has written a number of textbooks, with the third editions now published. His textbook on melanoma is the leading textbook on the subject; and a textbook on dermatopathology is one of the top three textbooks. One of textbooks was dedicated to his father. Barnhill served on the Board of Directors of Peoples State Bank for 20 years, 1984-2004. In 2004, Barnhill became seriously ill. However, he fought back to good health and enjoyed his cats, walking, watching television and visiting with friends who stopped by. He especially enjoyed recalling his military days with his son-in-law, Kenneth. Last, but not least, he enjoyed good food, good friends, national politics and listening to Big Band sounds. In 2006, the Sabine Hall of Fame bestowed upon him the incredible honor of induction into the prestigious Sabine Hall of Fame. A bronze plaque with his likeness hangs in the lobby of the Sabine Parish Courthouse. His health declined again in 2010 and after a lengthy hospital stay, he became a resident of Sabine Retirement and Rehabilitation. He lived a full and satisfying life, drawing little attention to himself over the years. His impact on the betterment of Sabine Parish was immeasurable and he will deeply missed.