Former Congressman Doug Barnard, Jr. Passes

Throughout its existence, Augusta and GA-10 have been blessed with some true giants, including child labor laws crusader Tom Watson, the Father of the Two-Ocean Navy Carl Vinson, and patients’ rights advocate Charlie Norwood.

One whose name might not spring immediately to mind these days is the Father of Modern Banking, Doug Barnard, Jr., a quieter figure than those previously mentioned, but equally skilled. He was first elected in 1976, and sixteen years later, a heart attack was the deciding factor in his choice not to run for re-election. He was an advocate for banking and IRS reform, having spent twenty years in banking before turning to politics, and he oversaw the federal response to the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s. Barnard was a founding member of the Boll Weevil Coalition – a predecessor to the modern-day Blue Dogs – which forced deals between President Reagan and Speaker O’Neill, allowing many issues to be addressed in bipartisan fashion. We don’t have many statesman of his caliber in Congress now, which is to our discredit.

In addition to serving in Congress, Barnard served on the Board of the Georgia Department of Transportation for 10 years and, before that, was executive secretary to Governor Carl Sanders, his best friend. Barnard was a World War II veteran and remained active in the American Legion for decades. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Augusta.

Born in 1922, Barnard was 95 years old. A lifelong Democrat but “often with the Republicans in spirit,” he was the first politician I ever knew, and he had a defining influence on me to seek out the middle ground and find ways to solve problems. Out of office for twenty-five years, Barnard continued to mentor elected officials and aspiring politicians of both political stripes. He will be sorely missed.

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