By Mark H. Stowers
A career spent helping Delta folks successfully plan for their financial future has kept Dudley Barnes busy. The Clarksdale native, Coahoma County High School and Mississippi State University Alum spent some time out of the Delta early on with his job, but he wanted to be where he knew people. The people he wanted to help, even more than with retirement plans.
“I was a stockbroker, but I wanted to be where I was better known and had more relationships,” says Barnes. “Really, the profession I’m in, financial planning/wealth management, this is a very unlikely place to be in this business. It’s really a big city occupation.”
“Relationships in the Delta are really key. Today, the Delta is about reconciliation with races and it’s neat to be part of that. Especially, with non-profits that are doing a lot to help children from tough families learn how to do different things, be better at school, learn how to operate a business, etc. Churches are more racially integrated now and it’s really rewarding to be associated with that because growing up, we didn’t see that very much.”
Barnes has been a member of several non-profit boards including Griot Arts, Presbyterian Day School Board, Lee Academy Board, the Baddour Center which works with mentally handicapped adults. He currently serves on his Presbyterian Church board.
“I’m a big supporter of everything in town that is benefitting people in need—from the Care Station to Griot Arts to the Spring Initiative. All of these are things I’m very passionate about,” he says.
A new cause that he is getting behind has yet to get off the ground, but is in the planning stages. Fuller Institute will be coming to the area to help create housing for local students.
“We are going to build some tiny houses in Clarksdale that will serve these young men and women who are out either out of high school or in community college and need a place to live that’s affordable,” he says. “That’s the next big project. Tiny houses are fun and a development of them would look nice. We’re even tinkering with concrete 3-d printing houses. How can we build the most economical, small house that accommodate a single or a couple?”
Barnes grew up on a farm as his father “farmed for other people,” but he didn’t pursue life on the turnrow. He did however, put the knowledge and money earned to good use as he helped pay for college from his cotton chopping work.
“I never knew anything but Mississippi State and agriculture,” he says. “I did marry an Ole Miss girl, so I’m balanced.”
Even though he lives in town, Barnes enjoys his “Italian Style” garden that has both a bountiful harvest and looks good at the same time. In addition to enjoying being outside, he is an avid duck hunter.
“I think if you can make a living in the Delta, there’s no better place to live,” he says.