James Hampton Barnett met his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ face-to-face Sunday morning, January 9, 2022.
He was born on December 8, 1934 in Somerset, Kentucky to the late John Worthington Barnett and Anna Claunch Barnett who preceded him in death.
During his over three-decade career with TVA, Hamp served in many positions, including Power Systems Engineer, Manager of the Energy Conservation Program and various Research and Development roles. As Program Manager of the Electric Transportation Program he oversaw research in Railway Electrification as well as the development and use of Alternative Fuels. Hamp was primarily known for his role in developing TVAs Electrical Vehicle Program, and became known world-wide as one of the leading experts in electric vehicles and battery development, working with a consortium at the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, California as well as other entities. You could see Hamp commuting daily from Harrison to the downtown TVA Office Complex in his bright orange VW Van or a tan or green VW Rabbit. Hamp often traveled to Wolfsburg, Germany to meet with Volkswagen officials to discuss vehicle electrification projects. This was decades before electric cars became popular and long before Volkswagen selected Chattanooga as the location for their U.S. plant, where the new electric Volkswagen ID.4 is being readied for production.
For his groundbreaking work he received the International Electric Vehicle Award in 1987, the TVA Employee Silver Award, many other commendations as well as a Chattanooga Key to the City in 1981.
Hamp was a Registered Professional Engineer and a member of the Chattanooga Engineers Club (Officer and Past President).
Following his retirement from TVA he served as Director of Electric Vehicle Research for Electrotek Concepts, Inc. He later was Corporate President of B/W Engineering Enterprises.
Hamps love and care for his family and friends was legendary. Any child in their neighborhood was welcomed in the Barnetts backyard for a variety of games and activities. He coached and mentored youth in baseball, basketball, football, softball and other sports at the Cumberland Youth Foundation, YMCA, and other Summer Youth Recreation Leagues in Somerset, KY and here in Chattanooga.
Hamp was also a skilled magician and illusionist. He was a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians. He was frequently asked to share his magic at the Chattanooga Engineers Club and he loved to share the story of the time he taught famed magician Doug Henning a new magic trick. He loved to attend magic conventions in Gatlinburg, making it an annual family gathering.
Under the pseudonym Hamp the Happy Magician he delighted children of all ages with his amazing array of skills. He shared the Gospel Message through his Gospel illusions, puppet ministry and clown ministry, performing at Vacation Bible Schools and throughout the year. He served in many capacities including Sunday School Teacher, Youth Director, Adult Choir Member and as Deacon at Ridgeview Baptist Church and later at Bayside Baptist Church, where he was recently selected for the honor of Deacon Emeritus. He was a faithful servant and follower of Christ.
A passionate Kentucky Wildcats basketball and football fan, Hamp made sure he passed that love for all things Big Blue down to his children, grandchildren and great-grands. He loved his alma mater and was honored to teach electrical engineering at UK for one year as a visiting professor on loan from TVA.
Hamp is survived by Elizabeth Sue Barnett, his loving wife of 63 years, daughter Jamie (Gary) Behler, son Gary Barnett, and Elizabeth Ann Libby (Robert) Putman of Chattanooga and daughter Pam (Gene) Torres of Orlando, Florida. Grandchildren include Brittany (Michael) Haynes, Jennifer (Derrick) Otis, Jared Behler, Tyler (Kassidy) Barnett, Amanda Torres, Samantha Torres, Erica Putman and Ashley Putman and great-grandchildren Aiden and Adelynn. In addition, Sister Nancy (Allen) Dawson and brother Harold (Patsy) Barnett of Lexington and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
Visitation will be Saturday, January 15th from 10 am-12 Noon at Bayside Baptist Church, 6100 Highway 58. A Celebration of Life Service will begin at Noon with the Reverend Grady Cooper officiating, with interment to follow.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Music Ministry of Bayside Baptist Church or Bethel Bible Village of Hixson.
Arrangements are by Chattanooga Funeral Home Crematory & Florist, North Chapel in Hixson. Condolences may be shared with the Barnett family at www.chattanooganorthchapel.com.