In February of 1941, the family moved to Savannah, Georgia; where Grace received her formal education in the Chatham County School District. As a teenager, Grace began her working career as a customer server at Bon Ton’s Bakery. She also worked in the hair salon in Hogan’s Department Store. Reaching for higher heights, Grace decided to attend school to become a certified nursing assistant. Upon successfully completing that training she worked for several years as a CNA with Candler-Telfair Women’s Hospital in the nursery. After leaving that position, she became a private duty caregiver and retired at the age of 62.
On April 14, 1951 Grace married the absolute love of her life, Sam Barnett, Jr., who preceded her in death on March 6, 2012, prior to celebrating 61 years of a blissful marriage. Four Children were born to this union.
In 1961, Grace received the power of the Holy Ghost at Bennett Temple. She later moved her membership to East Savannah Holiness Church of Christ Unto the Lord, Inc. Once saved in Christ she never looked back. She served diligently for the Lord, where she was divinely gifted as an orator. Grace was known throughout the Church organizations to give the welcome that she would write herself as she wanted to personalize each message. They did not come from a book, but from her heart. She was also famous for her poetry recitings. She spoke with so much clarity and conviction, enouncing each and every word. What was so amazing about her poems, is that she recited them all without a piece of paper or note cards for reference, Requests were often made by many other churches, including Bishop Moses Lewis to appear on various occasions.
Grace received two awards from The Church of Christ Holiness Unto The Lord, Inc.; August 19, 2011, “The James Kelly Royal Dedicated Servant Award” and on March 2012 “State Mother of the Georgia Jurisdiction”.
In addition to her God given talents she was also blessed as a wonderful cook. She would feed anyone at any time that she saw had a need. She was so giving that she actually gave away her meal, which left her without, on more than one occasion. Family, friends and neighbors would often request red rice and fried fish, homemade sour cream pound cakes and banana pudding. Nothing pleased her more than to see others enjoy her meals.
No matter what you may have called her i.e., Momma, Sister, Sister Grace, Mother Grace or Grandma Grace, you always got the same “GRACE”. A woman strong in her belief in Christ and her walk with the Lord, she never changed! Grace’s favorite saying was “every day with Jesus, is sweeter than the day before”.
Preceding her in death were two sisters, Linda V. Stewart and Mildred Rivers; and a brother, Carnell Abney.
Grace leaves to cherish her memory: four children; Gwendolyn LaVerne Jenkins, Beaufort SC, Larry A. Barnett, Decatur, GA, Brenda Y. Parker and Sharon A. Barnett, both of Savannah, GA; two sisters, Sara E. Barnett, New York and Miriam A. Rodney (Algernon) Ocoee, FL; two brothers, James Calvin Abney (Jackie), Savannah, GA, Roland H. Abney, Decatur, GA.; one honorary brother, Charles (Bunk) Black, Savannah, GA; four sister in laws; Audrey Johnson, Annie Mae Martin (Richard) both of Savannah, GA, Freida Smith, Sacramento, CA and Dr. Sandra Barnett-Reyes, Syracuse, NY; eighteen grandchildren; nine great grands and eight great-great grands, one God daughter, nieces, nephews, cousins, East Savannah Holiness Church and a host of other relatives and friends.