Frances Ernareeth (Reese) Adkins Barnes, 76, died at her home on July 13, 2010 after a courageous 4 ½ year battle with ALS. Reese was born June 2, 1934 in Dothan, Alabama, the daughter of Ivy and Trudy Mae Adkins. She graduated from Dothan High School in
1952 and married Charles H. Barnes on September 17, 1954 . They were married until his death in 2000 and spent more than 45 years enjoying their family and friends through church, work, craft shows, baseball, camping, and many other activities.
Reese was a teletype operator at The Dothan Eagle when she and Charles met and, she later managed retail businesses and had her own craft business. She will, however, forever be remembered as a homemaker, mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother. She truly believed in the importance of family and stressed it to her family and others.
Reese spent most of her adult life in Pine Bluff, Arkansas but subsequently returned to Alabama where she and Charles had a printing business in Troy until his death. She then moved to Little Rock, Arkansas where she quickly became immersed in her active life including Calvary Baptist Church, working at Rare Finds with her daughter-in-law, and attending events associated with her grandchildren.
In 2006, Reese was diagnosed with Bulbar ALS by UAMS specialist Stacy Rudnicki, M.D. (whom she absolutely adored) . Accompanied by her son, C. Lowry Barnes, M.D., she learned of her fatal disease from Dr. Rudnicki and began facing it head-on immediately. On their way home from the initial appointment, Lowry reports that his mother showed her strong faith immediately and assured him, “ Son, I am not afraid to die. I am only afraid that you and your family and Sandy (her daughter) and her family cannot handle my death”. Lowry resolved that his mother would never see him emotional over her diagnosis.
Reese remained very active in her church and became an integral part of anything related to ALS. She became involved in the ALS support group and often met with others who were recently diagnosed. God used her many times to show those with ALS and even more without ALS that a faith-filled positive attitude was contagious. As her daughter, Sandy said, “It seems so unfair that Mom would have a disease that eventually prevents her from speaking because we never heard her say anything bad about anyone.” Fortunately, Reese found other ways to communicate and continued to share her love. She threw out the first pitch at the 2009 Dickey-Stephens Lou Gehrig Day and was honored as the 2010 MDA Arkansan, again throwing out the first pitch in 2010. Dedicated to helping find a cure for ALS, she published “Reese’s Southern Favorites”, a cookbook with all proceeds going to ALS research.
Reese collected Santas and had about 350 on display in her home every Christmas. As recently as Christmas, 2008, she, although unable to speak or eat, was still preparing Christmas treats and hosting a Christmas party for her Sunday School Class.
Reese is survived by her son, C. Lowry Barnes, M.D., his wife Tanya, and their three children Emily, Chase, and Sally, all of Little Rock. She is also survived by her daughter, Sandy Barnes Watkins, her husband Pat, and their daughter Kendall, all of Woodstock, Georgia. In addition, she is survived by her sister Sybil Walden of Dothan, Alabama and her family as well as many other loved relatives.
Visitation will be at Ruebel Funeral Home from 4 to 6 P.M. on Friday, July 16, 2010. The funeral service will be at Ruebel Funeral Home on Saturday, July 17, 2010 at 11 o’clock. A private burial service will follow. Arrangements under the direction of Ruebel Funeral Home. www.ruebelfuneralhome.com.
Reese has asked that memorials be made to ALS Research at UAMS or to the Building Fund at Calvary Baptist Church.