Those who worked with Barry Jarrett describe him as a quiet leader and a man who deeply loved the town of Milledgeville and its people.
Jarrett, who began his career with the city as a waterworks manager and later became a city manager, collapsed at his home in Lakeview Circle and died later Sunday evening.
Jarrett began his career in the city on May 2, 1988, as director of water and sewers. In October 2009, Jarrett was appointed interim city manager while overseeing the city’s water and sewer services as manager. In February 2011, Jarrett was hired full time as City Manager. Jarrett continued to serve as the city’s water and sewer service manager until nearly his retirement from the city on August 1, 2019.
“I think Mr. Jarrett was a quiet leader,” said current city manager Hank Griffeth, who worked under Jarrett for five years as a town planner.
Griffeth said he can’t recall a case where he ever saw Jarrett lose his temper.
âHe’s always been pretty balanced,â Griffeth told The Union-Recorder in an interview Monday morning.
From an emotional standpoint, Jarrett never came across as too low or too high.
And that’s how he ran the city on a daily basis.
âHe always seemed to be able to make things run smoothly,â Griffeth said. “And I think that’s because when there was a high or a low, he grabbed it quickly and pulled it back to the middle.” He always seemed to work very well with the mayor and the council.
Griffeth was one of the first people to learn of Jarrett’s collapse at his home through his work as a volunteer firefighter / first responder with Baldwin County Fire Rescue.
Griffeth received a pager alert for a medical call around 10:15 p.m. Sunday.
âWhen I heard the address, I immediately knew who lived there,â Griffeth said. âAs a volunteer I probably would have gone anyway, but once I found out who owned the residence, it became extremely important for me to be there, not only for Barry, but also for Jeanie. “
Jeanie Jarrett was the wife of Barry Jarrett and his constant companion. She has owned Flowers by Jeanie on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Milledgeville for many years.
After falling at his home, Jarrett was treated at his home by Grady’s firefighters / first responders and emergency medical services personnel. He was then taken from his residence to the Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin Hospital in Milledgeville.
Griffeth said he texted Mayor Mary Parham-Copelan and each of the six city council members to inform them of the situation on Sunday evening.
Griffeth said he also texted Milledgeville Police Chief Dray Swicord.
“I knew Chief Swicord would want to know,” Griffeth said, noting that the chief of police had gone to the hospital to comfort the Jarrett family.
The relationship between Jarrett and Swicord goes back many years.
This dates back to before Jarrett appointed Swicord as the town’s police chief in 2012.
âHe was a great boss and a great friend to me,â Swicord said Monday afternoon. âWhen he was my boss, we talked to each other every day.
Even after Jarrett retired, Swicord said they remained friends.
âWe stayed in touch by phone,â Swicord said. “I have seen him in person a few times since he retired.”
Swicord said he will always remember Jarrett as being fair.
âHe’s always been fair to everyone,â Swicord said. âWhatever he said, he meant it, and he supported it. It was probably the most important thing that stood out for me about him. “
Swicord called Jarrett a genuine person.
âHe will be truly missed in this community,â said Swicord.
From a personal perspective, Griffeth said Jarrett will be remembered as a leader and that whenever the city goes through a tough spot, Jarrett tries to deal with it before it gets too big or out of proportion.
Under Jarrett’s direction, the city completed several projects, including the renovation of the City Council Chamber and the meeting room for working sessions at City Hall.
He also oversaw renovations to two government buildings adjacent to Town Hall in downtown Milledgeville.
Another project that Jarrett devoted a lot of time to was the plan for the new water plant.
âI think he probably would have liked to see that come to fruition, but for some reason he chose to retire before that date,â Griffeth said. âObviously, the water and sewers were what the town cut its teeth on, so to speak. He knew this world, and I think this region was near and dear to him.
Tears filled the eyes of Mervin Graham, director of human resources for the City of Milledgeville when she went to work Monday morning and learned of the death of her former boss.
âHe’s always been kind and very easy to work with,â Graham recalls. âHe was always available to talk and always took time for his staff. Whatever the situation, he always took time for you as a staff member.
Graham, who has worked in the city for almost 26 years, said she believes this to be one of Jarrett’s special qualities as a city manager.
Arrangements made by Slater Funeral Home in Milledgeville remained incomplete Monday afternoon.