Lieutenant Hugh Barnett

Hugh Barnett

Class of 1931

Two-Year Bible School at Toccoa Falls Institute – Diploma

What you have done since graduation:

I began study toward an AB degree in liberal arts, attending the University of Florida from 1931-1932 and Asbury College from 1932-1935. I spent a few months preaching and did various odd jobs, before serving in World War II. My service was from June 1941 until February 1946 as a Lieutenant for the Signal Corps Broadcast Radio Engineer. Following the service, I was a field engineer and department chief for 27 years at Western Electric Company. I retired at age 65 and began working as a part-time electronics engineer for the next 8 years with Intelligent Systems.

Navy nurse, Juliet Ekdahl and I were married on April 11, 1953. We had one daughter, Ann, who is married to a Lutheran pastor and living near Charleston, SC. Juliet and I moved to Westminster Towers, a continuing care retirement community in Rock Hill, SC in August 1997, after having lived in our home in Doraville, GA, for 35 years. Juliet passed away on June 20, 2007, three weeks short of age 90.

What you are doing now:

Active at the Towers in the drama club,
Various exercise activities
Writing for the Towers Monthly Newspaper
Companion with Cynthia Ditursi for music, theatre, and dance for 7 years
Spent 4 seasons (October-April) performing with the Carolina Copy Cats, a lip-syncing group doing about 30 performances a season for church senior groups, retirement places, etc.
Active member of Grace Lutheran Church

Impact Toccoa Falls Institute had on your life:

During the second semester of my first year at TFI, my new roommate Dan Arnold, a radio amateur, got me interested in radio. Dan led me through ordering parts and assembling them for a one-tube receiver. He was trying to obtain a broadcast radio license. WTFI was the second licensed AM radio station in Georgia. TFI had obtained it to broadcast church services when Dr. Forrest was pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Toccoa and the station was in the church. WTFI had gone commercial, on air from 7:00-9:00 a.m. and 12:00-2:00 p.m. and was actively selling more advertising to expand time on air. Dan was sure WTFI would need to add licensed operators to the then current one. So, I bought a radio manual and studied it at home six days a week all summer. On way back to TFI for my second year, I stopped in Atlanta to take the all-day license exam. I barely passed at 75%, but that still got me the license dated August 30, 1930 (when I was 18). WTFI had expanded and Dan and I worked as a team for 5 hours a day my second year at TFI. I made $0.20/hour which covered my room, board, and tuition which was $30/month.

This one year of service no doubt helped me get into the Signal Corps Officer Candidate School in March 1942 (after Pearl Harbor attack). There I became a 2nd Lieutenant and was put into training for radar work. My studies were at Harvard, MIT, and Signal Corps schools. My overseas assignment was in Trinidad & Tobago for 1 1/2 years. After release from military, I took the broadcast radio license exam again, passed it easily, and worked as engineer for a few years before getting a position with Western Electric. So you could say that TFI provided me with a career in electronics – even though it took WWII to complete it.

The Charlotte Observer featured Hugh last summer after his 102nd birthday: