Glenda Faye Rigdon Barrett considered becoming a basketball coach but decided to become a nurse instead. Her mother agreed, saying, “You always wanted to be a nurse when you were little and also you just wanted to help people.” Glenda became a Registered Nurse by the time she was nineteen years old, having graduated from Decatur High School in 1975 and the nursing program at Meridian Junior College in 1977.
Glenda was born to Bernard and Kate Rigdon of Decatur, June 5, 1957. She has one younger brother, Al Rigdon, who lives in Virginia and has two children, Katherine and Ethan. Their father worked as a truck driver for an orange grove in Frostproof, Florida, when Glenda was a baby. They returned home to Decatur when she was two, where he became an electrician. He owned his own electrical business and taught night classes at East Central Jr. College. A Marine veteran who served in the Korean War, at one point he worked with a group of men who installed milk tanks for dairy farmers across Mississippi, and he also worked for ESCO. Her mother worked at Newton Pants Factory. They owned Betty’s Kitchen when Glenda was little, so her mother worked there and later at the Decatur Drive-in and hotel. Mrs. Rigdon retired from the Newton County School System after serving as a cafeteria worker.
Glenda was a superior student in Decatur schools growing up, and recalled of her high school years, “Billy Pierce, who now serves as my Sunday School teacher with his wife Linda, was one of the teachers who had the most influence on me going into the nursing field.” When Glenda was seven or eight years old, Rev. Fred Fowler was pastor of Clarke-Venable Baptist Church. One Sunday morning, she told me she heard the sermon and “decided it was time to go down and follow Jesus.” She has been doing that ever since, as is evident from the excellence of her work to the ways she gives to others and points people to Jesus at every opportunity, even praying with some of her patients.
Married 39 years, Glenda and Joe Barrett have two children and three grandchildren. Glenda told me, “Joe is a devoted husband who always puts his family first.” Born to parents NG and Verla Barrett, Joe worked at Choctaw Maid as an expansion coordinator, and is retired from Workforce Development at ECCC. The first few years of their marriage, they were active members of Midway Baptist Church. Glenda served as a Sunday School teacher and cared for the nursery. Later, the family became members of Clarke-Venable Baptist, where Joe is a deacon and serves as a greeter every Sunday.
Daughter Lauren Barrett is married to Brett Bennett from Union, and who has two sons, Jaggar and Jovi. Lauren is a sales representative for ADT and Brett works for Delta Directional in fiber optics. The Barretts’ son Kyle Barrett married to Sarah Eakes of Little Rock, is in the Army National Guard and works as a Ratheon facilities engineer. Sarah is a registered nurse. He and Sarah have Nash, their miracle baby, who was born July 2020, at 27 weeks, weighing two pounds four ounces!
From 1977 to 1986, Mrs. Barrett was an R.N. at Newton/Rush Hospital; from 1986-88 she was Director of Nurses at Hilltop Manor; then she worked as a Laird Home Health Nurse for a year before serving as Director of Nurses at Rush Hospital from 1989–1993. In 1992, Mr. Dan Harrison, Administer of Newton Hospital and Vice President of Rush Health Systems, asked her to take the new course of study offered by the University of Mississippi School of Nursing in Jackson to become a Nurse Practitioner, during which time Rush would pay her salary and all school expenses. She then was to work for them for two years. That was in ’92, and she has worked for Rush ever since.
Glenda started her nurse practitioner career with Dr. A. P. Boggan in the Decatur Family Medical Clinic in 1994, In 2005, she transferred to Family Medical Group in Union, working with Dr. J. G. Alexander until his retirement and with Dr. Russell Belenchia. She is still employed at Family Medical Group in Union. From 1997-2018, she also worked in emergency rooms and clinics in the Jackson area part-time on weekends. She continues to work as a Nurse Practitioner at Trust Care Express Care Clinic on weekends, under the supervision of Dr. Steve Chouteau.
Nine years ago, she became owner of her own direct marketing business, selling Rodan+Fields, the #1 brand of skin care product in North America and Canada. A few years ago, she and friend Bonnie Walker, with their husbands, began the His and Hers Catering business when a friend needed catering for a wedding.
It seems other people see what she is capable of doing and move to get her involved in yet something more. In 1988, she received a phone call from Mrs. Cathy McDill, when several had decided that Glenda should run for the Newton County School Board. Using the slogan “The Key to Mississippi’s Future—Our Children,” Glenda thought if she could have an influence on at least one child, this would be a job worth doing. Therefore, she ran and won in 1989 to become the first female board member. In 2000 she became the President of the School Board, serving in that capacity until 2012, then again in 2014.
Of the many awards and honors on her resume, here are several. She has served as President of the Mississippi School Board Association’s Board of Directors, was the first State Representative for the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners in 1995 and received the Mississippi State Award for Excellence in 2003. In 2006 she was chosen the Decatur Citizen of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce. In 2019, she was presented with the Mississippi School Boards Association Board Member of the Year award.
The one she treasures the most is the Red Rose Award, presented to Glenda R. Barrett on April 5, 2008, from the Delta Kappa Gamma International XI Chapter for “Her Significant Contributions to Education in Mississippi.” Her reason for the award being so important is her great respect for the professional women who chose her. Also, Glenda was the first recipient of the Red Rose Award who was not an educator.
On Jan. 11, 2021, Mrs. Barrett tested positive for COVID-19. Having a serious case, she spent eight days in the hospital and missed six weeks of work. The caring response of the patients and staff, which she greatly appreciates, has revealed how much her influence and work has meant to them all.
After our visit, it seems to me that Glenda Barrett has cared for and worked as hard for education as she has for her nursing career, just in a different way. She assured me that together we will continue to promote health care to the patients in the surrounding area as well as to support public education to the fullest.
Live for Jesus! He’s coming soon! You may contact me at email@example.com or 601-635-3282.