Meet Pops

Councilor Jerry "Pops" Barnes

Member of American Legion 

Member of Disabled American Veterans 

Member of American Military Society 

Red Cross Minority Recruitment Board

Concerned Citizens of South Columbus 

Columbus Hospice Board

Jerry “Pops” Barnes was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. He and his sisters and brothers were raised by their grandmother in extremely poor financial conditions, but extremely rich in the values that their grandmother instilled in them  of love,  hard work, honesty, integrity  and to treat everyone as we want to be treated. 

“My grandmother’s name was Mary J. White, but her friends called her Mamie or Mame, why I don’t know. She was what was called back then a ‘Washer Woman’ or ‘Cleaning Woman’ One of her favorite sayings was ‘Right is right and right don’t wrong nobody’; in other words always do the right thing and treat everyone the right way.”

My grandmother was one of the oldest ladies in our community. Everybody called on her for advice on everything from health issues, to how to settle a family problem, and she never turned anyone away. Being an African American female in those times, she couldn’t get the education she wanted, but she  never let her lack of ability stop her availability to help someone. She had what the old folks called ‘Motherwit’, good natural intelligence and the older I’ve gotten in life the more wise and intelligent I know she was.  

I was the oldest boy and many times I walked with her in the dark of night or early dawn to an ill neighbor’s house to take food, clean, or just see how he/she was doing. To this very day my grandmother is the most selfless and the most altruistic person I have ever known. She is also the one singular person who has had the most profound effect on my life.

Mary J. White

Grandmother of Jerry “Pops” Barnes

Pops retired from the United States Army after 20 years as a Master Sergeant E-8. He earned an AAS degree in Journalism from Philadelphia Community College, a BA degree in History from the University of Pennsylvania and a BSN degree in Nursing from Columbus State University. He has been an active volunteer in the Columbus community since 1997.

Master Sergeant, Jerry Barnes

Barnes initiated the concept, wrote the resolution, and founded the annual Veterans Day Parade in Columbus held  annually second Saturday in November.

Pops Barnes is a Registered Nurse and has volunteered on the Columbus Regional Mobile Health Van. He was one of the first nurses assigned to the Columbus Red Cross Shelter Relief Operations and has operated shelters during the flooding in Harris County in 2003, Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and was one of the first nurses to operate a shelter during  Hurricane Katrina.

In 2002, prompted by the rise in preventable illnesses, he dedicated himself to go into the community to provide free health education, screening and case management through his organization “The Pan Columbus Wellness Project” that has as its mission statement “Access to holistic health care for all the citizens of Columbus and the neighboring counties”.  He does free community health nursing on a regular basis in homes, recreation centers, and churches; In addition he assists in organizing numerous health fairs in the community, writes a weekly health column in the Columbus Times newspaper and has a daily TV show called “Focus on Health” to educate people to make healthy lifestyle choices and informed health care decisions.

He initiated the concept of “Active Communities in Holistic Health Interventions” which stresses that as a community we can close the gap on health disparities by helping each other stress the three levels of disease prevention namely: health education, timely screening and timely follow-up. Everyone from a child who can ask a parent to stop smoking, to a store manager who can display health information, to a senior citizen who can share the health knowledge gained from years of living. EVERYONE is empowered to help.

Because of his concern about the rising rate of diabetes in Columbus, he came up with and initiated free blood sugar testing at fire stations for all the citizens of Columbus; something that has never been done in any other city. Also because of his many years providing free community health care, in the city of Columbus, he was invited by the National Minority Quality Forum, The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Inc. and the American Medical Association in cooperation with the Congressional Black Caucus of the Congress of the United States to speak in Washington D.C. at the Spring Health Brain Trust and Fifth Annual Health Disparities Leadership Summit. He spoke about his progress in fighting health disparities in Columbus, Georgia. In August of 2008, he spoke to nurses attending the National Black Nurses Conference in Las Vegas Nevada about his Active Communities in Holistic Health Interventions philosophy and the city wide blood sugar testing he initiated in Columbus.

Within 97 days of being in office, Pops fulfilled his campaign promises and persuaded Council to reopen three recreation centers which had been closed since 1997 in order to provide social services and healthcare to the community. In addition, he supported the passing of a local option sales tax to hire 100 additional Police Officers, as well as open a police precinct in the heart of District 1.

In 2010, Pops won reelection with two other candidates in the race by 63.4%, in 2014 by 60%, and in 2018 by 73.4%. In October 2019, Pops was honored by the United States Postal Service with the Purple Heart stamp for his many community contributions to the citizens of the Columbus, Phenix City and Fort Benning communities. 

On February 2020 Pops received a statewide honor as a Distinguished Older Georgian of the Year. Pops was honored by the Georgia Council on Aging. He was honored by both the Georgia Senate and Georgia House of Representatives which honored him with a resolution from both chambers, and the Commissioner of the Department of Human Services Ms. Robyn Crittenden introduced him to the audience. Pops also received at the Georgia Gerontology Society’s 65th Anniversary the John Tyler Mauldin Award “in recognition as the individual who exemplifies a positive role model for outstanding achievement in gerontology”. In 2019 Pops was voted vice chair of the River Valley Regional Commission. “The RVRC serves 35 municipalities and county governments in 16 counties.”

During his years on City Council, Pops has made sure that District 1 has received its fair share of funding for streets, and infrastructure.

Under Pops’ watch District 1 has received over 38.1 Million dollars in funding for streets and infrastructure.


Corporate Ridge/Woodruff Farm upgraded signals and turning lanes-  $1.6 Million

Natatorium and Citizens Service Center- 31 Million 

Rosewood Drive traffic calm/speed tables-  $25,000

Wynnton Road ATMS-signal System project- $1 Million 

Forrest Road bridge replacements -$4.5 Million

Bena Vista Rd. pedestrian bridge renovation -$200,000 

Milgen Rd.& Cooper Creek entrance- $10,000

The Barnes Family

Pops is married to his lovely wife Jannie Barnes, and they have eight children, ten grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren.  Because of his level of commitment and involvement in the community Pops is known as “The Hardest Working Elected Official” Pop’s hero is his grandmother and his goal is to continue to try to live up to the example that she gave him.