In Memoriam
Billy “Bill” Yairda Barnett
Northeastern State University ~ Student 1950s

                Barnett - NESU 1958     SHAWNEE, OK  --  Billy “Bill” Yairda Barnett was born on January 28, 1934, to Rhoda (Cato) Barnett and Tony Barnett in Eufaula, Oklahoma. He was Muscogee (Creek) of the Fuswv Clan. Bill passed away on February 5, 2021 in Shawnee, OK.

    He is preceded in death by a daughter Karen R. Chotkey, his mother Rhoda Barnett, brother Buster Barnett, sisters Mary Barnett and Stella Lena, and grandson Robert Chotkey.

    He is survived by wife Mary Jo, son Lincoln Barnett of Seminole, daughters: Stephanie Barnett of Yukon, Dr. Jennifer Barnett of Shawnee, and Angela & Lance Couture of McLoud, brother and best friend Jackson Barnett of Eufaula, grandsons Johnathan Chotkey and William Chotkey, son-in-law Darrell Chotkey of Shawnee, and many nieces and nephews.

     Bill graduated from Litchfield High School in Litchfield Park, AZ, Bacone College in Muskogee, completed his Bachelors and Masters of Educational Administration from Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, his doctoral coursework (ABD) at the University of New Mexico-Albuquerque, and a second Bachelor’s from Oklahoma Baptist.

    While attending Northeastern, Bill lived at Sequoyah Vocational School (1958 & 1959) as a scholarship student and worked as dorm assistant to pay for his room and board.

    While at NSU, he accepted Christ as his Saviour. When Bill was a child, he and his brother Jackson almost died of a fever; two elderly African American women prayed and nursed them to health. They asked God to make one of them a preacher. Bill accepted the call to preach when he was 27 years old, but knew since childhood that God was calling him.

    Bill was ordained and served as Asst. Pastor at First Indian, South Gate Ca, where he met Mary Jo. He later pastored First Indian Muskogee OK, Baptist Indian Mission, Albuquerque, NM, and since 1975 served as founding pastor of Indian Nations, in Seminole.

    Bill served on the faculty at several universities, as an administrator for the TRIO programs. He enjoyed sports and coached several sports. While in New Mexico, he commenced the first National All Indian Basketball Tournament at UNM’s The Pit (1974). In OK, he conducted all Native American basketball tournaments for 20 plus years for children to adults.

    Bill served on the Indian Falls Creek Board for 40 years in several roles: Director, Chairman, and Bible Conference Director. He was elected Second Vice President of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (1992), appointed a Catalytic Missionary by the Home Mission Board (1995), and served on the Oklahoma Baptists’ Board of Directors (2014-2020) and Native American Advisory Team.

    In addition, Bill competed in the Oklahoma Senior games, North American Indigenous Games, and the National Senior Games, earning numerous medals and records in multiple track and field events in the 55 to 86 year age groups. His 4x100 relay team won Gold in several National meets and set a new meet record at the 2019 Nationals in Albuquerque.

    In his down time, Bill was completing a translation project of the “Jesus” film into Muscogee. He enjoyed gardening, classical music, classic movies and trivia, playing Scrabble, building ‘things’, writing/creating publications, finding camps to volunteer at, and watching sporting events. He always rooted for the underdog. To the end, he was developing ideas and laying out plans for Indian Nations and ministry projects, including Indian Falls Creek.

    Bill served on, developed, and created multiple ministry and educational initiatives, programs, committees, and organizations yet unnamed, and he was always dreaming of new things to do to help serve. He always sought to help, advise, encourage, and mentor others.

    Funeral services were held on Friday, February 12, 2021 at First Baptist Church in Seminole. Burial followed at Fairview Cemetery in Shawnee.