Billie Joyce Barnett Leeming

Published 5:55 pm Monday, September 11, 2023

Billie Joyce Barnett Leeming, a long-time resident of Courtland, Miss., died August 13th, 2023 in Friday Harbor, WA.  She was 84 years old. Mrs. Leeming was born Sept. 20, 1938, in Panola County, to the late William Harold and Gladys E. Wilson Barnett.  She graduated in 1956 from Batesville High School and attended Northwest Mississippi College.  She held executive secretarial positions in Memphis and Nashville, Tenn., before returning to Batesville as branch office manager of Warner Cable Television Company. In 1973, she married Frank Leeming and moved to Philadelphia, where her husband was an editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Five years later they moved to Kingsport, Tenn., when Mr. Leeming became publisher of the Kingsport Times-News. As president of the county humane society, Mrs. Leeming successfully pushed for adoption of new city and county animal-cruelty laws and construction of a new county animal shelter.

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In 1983, the Leemings purchased the Journal of the San Juan Islands in Friday Harbor, Wash., where Mrs. Leeming was active in all phases of the newspaper’s operation. She became a founding member of the board of the new San Juan Community Theater and directed some of its most successful fund-raising programs.  In 1990, she was named a Citizen of the Year in San Juan County. In 1992, the Leemings sold their company and moved to Hot Springs Village, Ark.

She was an active supporter of Small Group Therapy, a non-profit organization in Hot Springs providing training, housing and treatment for adults with mental illness.  She founded Friends of Small Group Therapy, a volunteer group which raised half a million dollars for its indigent residents.

At Presbyterian Kirk in the Pines, she was an elder, moderated the church’s Communication Committee and edited the church newsletter.  She later became the church’s secretary and retired in 2017. She was preceded in death by her husband, Frank Leeming of Hot Springs Village, AR.  Survivors include her brother, Joe Thomas Barnett of Courtland, Miss.; sister-in-law, Susan Leeming Barnett, of Montgomery, Ala.; sons William C. “Dusty” Leeming of Friday Harbor, Wash.; Gregory Scott Leeming of Friday Harbor, Wash.; Frank Leeming, III of Waynesville, N.C., and Lewis Carl Leeming of Haskell, Ark; daughter, Patricia Leeming Barrett of Charlotte, N.C., and six grandchildren. No services are planned at Mrs. Leeming’s request.