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Vigil held for the late Mayor Barnett

BY BRITTNEE NAVE
STAR CORRESPONDENT
Mourners gathered at the Carter County Courthouse to honor the late Mayor Rusty Barnett on Tuesday night. 
 
This was the second vigil to be held, the first being Monday following news earlier in the day of the mayor’s passing. 
 
Organized by family, a memorial sat in front of the courthouse while attendees were given candles. Memories, a moment of silence, prayers and tears filled the vigil for the late mayor. 
 
Barnett’s cousin, Michael Byrd, addressed attendees.
 
“He will never be forgotten,” said Byrd. “He might be gone…but he’s not gone. He’s standing right here looking on at all of us.”
 
Byrd shared memories of Barnett.
 
“The reason I wanted to have this is that I love Rusty,” he said. “He’s my blood, I’m his blood.”
 
Byrd opened the floor to anyone who wanted to share memories of Barnett. Among them were former classmates, friends and coworkers, all describing his generosity and kindness towards others.
 
Barnett was described as always just being himself, no matter the setting. 
 
Among the speakers was Diane Cupp, a former classmate. 
 
“Rusty and I were schoolmates,” she began. “He was just an all-around guy and it carried over into his adult life, helping anybody that needed help. He was a wonderful person.”
 
Anita Hodges Taylor described meeting Rusty two years ago when both were running for office, him for mayor and her for state Republican Executive Committeewoman. Both won.
 
“People here love Rusty. He just has the heart for the job, and that’s what it takes,” she said. “Rusty had the heart.”
 
After memories and remarks were shared, candles were lit. 
 
“We lit these candles for Rusty, our mayor, a father, grandfather, we lit these candles tonight in honor of him,” said Byrd. “He’s walking by and hugging every one of us, telling us he loves us…I never dreamed this would happen.”
 
A moment of silence was held for the late mayor before “Amazing Grace” was sung by attendees into the night.
 
The vigil concluded with prayer and an opening of final remarks, a general consensus of love for Mayor Rusty Barnett.