December 7 will mark one year since the passing of Carol Jenkins Barnett. The majority of Lakelanders likely know she is the daughter of Publix founder George Jenkins, was a tremendous leader of her own within the supermarket chain and was an extremely generous philanthropist.
But you might not know that “Miss Carol,” as her daughter-in-laws affectionally call her:
- Had an appetite for adventure that took her to shark infested waters and many places via horseback
- Tied the knot in her parent’s living room
- Never missed the opportunity to get dolled up for a costume party
- Was the catalyst for a statewide reading program that continues today
- Is responsible for many of the distinctive details at newly opened Bonnet Springs park
In The Carol Effect, which is now on stands at local restaurants and businesses, we explore and showcase the many sides of and the rare impact of a Lakelander whose legacy won’t be fully recognized for generations.
Go grab a copy today!
Editor’s Note: A Life Well Lived, a Tapestry Well Sewn
Every night before bedtime, Raleigh and Birdie Barnett pray for CB.
CB was the endearing nickname Carol Jenkins Barnett’s three grandchildren had for their grandmother who may have seemed larger-than-life to outsiders, but was simply a consistent source of life for her friends and family.
The world might remember her first as a visionary leader, successful businesswoman and wealthy philanthropist but those closest to the late wife of Barney Barnett and dear daughter of Publix founder George Jenkins have a hard time using just phrases to describe her because vivid stories about her seem to be the only way to justly describe her impact.
As I had the privilege to get to better understand the depth of Carol’s legacy in Lakeland and around the world I certainly lost track of how many projects she jump started, funded or helped with, but that’s not what will stick with me. What I will never be able to shake as long as I call Lakeland home is that every time any of us interact with one of her family members or best friends we are truly experiencing a glimpse or a piece of what Carol was all about.
Carol’s daughter in-laws, Ashley B. Barnett and Ashley G. Barnett — who Carol fittingly nicknamed “Deuce” because she was thesecond Ashley to fall for one of Carol’s boys —speak with such reverence and adoration about Carol that just talking with them makes you wish you could sit down and share a laugh with her.
Ashley G. and her husband Nick lived with Carol and Barney for almost two years, so she enjoyed a close bond forged over regularly eating breakfast and cooking dinner together. Ashley G. remembers when she had LASIK eye surgery done and thought it was going to be a breeze, but it ended up being extremely painful. Carol was there to nurture her.
“She literally held me like a baby and
just rocked and took care of me. She’s like, ‘It’s going to be OK.’”
Both Ashleys are quick to recall their first scuba diving adventure with Carol, remembering how the adventurous veteran wanted the rookies to jump into deep water where a shark had been spotted. They politely but firmly declined.
“Carol, I love you, but I can’t do this,” Ashley B. told Carol. “I’m not going to get eaten by a shark today.’ And so we ended up diving somewhere else.”
The daughter in-laws could write a book about the acts of generosity they saw from Carol. Ashley G. said she remembers Carol going through her luggage to find shoes and she was ready to go find water when she found out a small island near where they were vacation had just experienced a devastating flood. Ashley B. said just as important as the huge charitable ventures Carol was lauded for are the countless people of all income levels, statuses and backgrounds that she empowered and ushered into the spotlight of opportunity.
The stories we share in this special issue are not all-encompassing, they are not deeply investigative (although I could argue this point because of the days of conversation and research) and they are not made to convince you of anything. These stories are merely a way to celebrate and share the effect made by an incredible woman who loved deeply and was deeply loved.
Ashley B. describes that effect beautifully.
“Carol never set out with a grand plan or anything like that. Basically, she sewed a tapestry in this community, and I can think thread by thread of the people that she helped make this tapestry.”
RJ Walters, Editor