nunst055He was the son of the sand hills of North Carolina, he was a Tar Heel born, bred, and despite living in Virginia for more than fifty years of his ninety one years, he was a Tar Heel in death.  John G. Barrett, was a mentor, a professor, a friend, and a true Southern Gentleman

He, was one of the greatest coterie of academics known.  John Barrett, Robert Hunter, George Brooke the Carolina Mafia; B. McClure Gilliam and Tyson Wilson Professor of History par excellence who were not only scholars, but teachers and mentors to many generations of Cadets of the Virginia Military Institute.

 Of them all, it was John Barrett who touched me the most.  It was John Barrett, whom I got my first A at VMI, and who let me know I had what it took to be a Historian.  I never got my Ph.D and while a historian of the South, I was not a Civil War Historian like John, once telling him I wanted to maintain my amateur status when it came to the Civil War and not be obstructed by facts, I nevertheless wanted to emulate him.

John Barrett was the real deal when it came to be a Professor of History.  He taught courses, he kept regular office hours where any Cadet could drop by and get advice, counsel, or a welcomed ear as they repeated the woes of their Cadetship.  But he was also involved in VMI.  He served as the Chairman of the Athletic Council and the President of the Southern Conference.  He may have been a Tar Heel but he loved his Keydets.

John Barrett died this week, and so did part of me.  I know he is in heaven, which is the color of Carolina Blue, reunited with my Dad and his fraternity brother Jack Nowell telling stories and commenting as only a bunch of New Deal Democrats can about the sorry state of American politics.

God Bless John Barrett and VMI.

3 thoughts on “John G. Barrett Citizen, Scholar, and Muse

  1. As a chem major we rarely had any electives. I asked Col Barrett if I could take his civil was and reconstruction course even though I had not take the pre requisite two semesters of American history. He said it would be ok with him but I would have to get the Dept Heads permission. This was not easy but I got the permission and I took his course. I still have the textbook.
    John DuBose 1969

  2. Indeed a great man and professor, looking back I now am able to fully understand the privilege it was to have experienced his one year course on Civil War and Reconstruction.

  3. I was an Electrical Engineering major, but for my electives I took all of Col. Barrett’s classes. I took U.S. History, Civil War and Reconstruction. He was able to bring clarity and depth to the history of this great nation. I will never forget the dog eared note pads from which he lectured. I still have my notes from his classes, and I will always treasure them. I pray that Col. Barrett’s notes are archived somewhere at the institute, because they were used to enlighten and educate thousands of cadets. Some of my fondest memories were when we could get him off track and get him to tell us about his adventures in the Navy during World War II. I will miss Col. Barrett. Lord thank you for the gift of John G. Barrett’s life.

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