Claudelia S. Barnes, 81, former med tech, teacher

Joey Matthews | 12/18/2015, 5:10 a.m.
Claudelia S. Barnes was born and raised in Richmond at a time when Jim Crow laws oppressed African-Americans and the ...

Claudelia S. Barnes was born and raised in Richmond at a time when Jim Crow laws oppressed African-Americans and the Ku Klux Klan fomented a reign of terror.

“The Ku Klux Klan burned a cross in her parents’ front yard when she was a teenager,” recalled Mrs. Barnes’ daughter, Dawn C. Cobb.

“Her parents were one of the first families to integrate the Barton Heights community,” she said of the once predominately white North Side neighborhood.

Undeterred by the hatred, Mrs. Barnes forged a life fueled by faith and filled with accomplishment.

She worked as a medical technologist for more than a decade at the Medical College of Virginia beginning in the late 1950s. She later moved to Maryland, where she taught high school for many years.

Mrs. Barnes is being remembered following her death Dec. 9, 2015, in Waldorf, Md. She was 81.

Her family and friends will celebrate her life at a funeral service 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 18, at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Oxon Hill, Md., where Mrs. Barnes and her husband served as elders and on several committees.

Mrs. Barnes was born July 18, 1934, in Richmond, one of three siblings. Her parents, John and Evelyn Sweat, were longtime educators in Richmond. Her father taught at George Mason Elementary School for more than 40 years. Her mother taught at Chimborazo Elementary School and several other schools.

Mrs. Barnes followed in their footsteps by helping others through her career work and also in her involvement in numerous clubs and service groups.

“She was beautiful, articulate, intelligent, nurturing and loving,” her daughter said.

She graduated from Virginia Union University with a bachelor’s degree in biology in the early 1950s. While there, she also pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

In 1954, she married George Harold Clarke Jr. The two had five daughters.

In Richmond, she was a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church, The Mothers Club and Club Dejouir Inc.

In 1969, she married Dr. Charlie J. Barnes and moved to Maryland, where Mrs. Barnes taught science at Oxon Hill High School until her retirement.

She also was active in the Washington Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Washington Chapter of the National Pan-Hellenic Council and belonged to the Washington Chapter of the VUU Alumni Association.

Mrs. Barnes is survived by her husband, Dr. Barnes; five daughters, Deborah Clarke-Hall of Port Royal, Dalerie C. Williams of Washington, Delia C. Pitchford of Richmond, Dawn C. Cobb of East Amherst, N.Y., and Diedria C. Williams of Annandale; two sisters, Jacqueline Sweat Duster of Chicago and Evelyn Sweat Chambers of Upper Marlboro, Md.; six grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and numerous other relatives and friends.