Elizabeth Betty Rogers Barnhart died May 28, 2016, at A.G. Rhodes Rehabilitation Center in Atlanta, 14 years after suffering a brain aneurysm and stroke. She was 82.
Betty was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on January 14, 1934, to William and Elizabeth Rogers. She graduated from Auburn University then Alabama Polytechnic Institute with a bachelor's degree in chemistry, receiving the Comer Award as the top student in physical science. Later, she earned a master's degree in insect toxicology from Auburn. She went on to earn a doctorate in microbiology at Emory University while she had four school-age children at home. She studied the freezing properties of viruses, and her colleagues posted a sign on her freezer saying "Keep your hands off this THANG" in honor of her Alabama roots.
She worked as a laboratory technologist, high school teacher, college professor and, finally, researcher at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, where she retired in 1996.
She enjoyed travel, doing much of it in the course of her work with the CDC, World Health Organization and Pan American Health Organization. She visited China, Japan, Guam, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Germany and Argentina, and she maintained friendships with several people she met along the way. She received numerous awards for her research and was widely published.
She had an infectious smile — she even smiled while sleeping — and a cheerful disposition that was undiminished by physical challenges that grew to include quadriplegia and hearing loss.
Betty loved flea markets, Auburn football, bird-watching and being near mountains or water. In retirement, she and her longtime companion, Louis Alexander shared a home in Melrose, Florida, where she often enjoyed swimming and boating and entertaining grandchildren.
In addition to Louis or "Papa," as the grandchildren call him, she is survived by her children, Beverly Brian O'Shea, Bob Cheryl Barnhart, Andy Belinda Lea Barnhart and Marcia Rusty Harris; her sister, Evelyn Banks Farris; and 11 grandchildren, Maggie James Perkins and Nick O'Shea; Kevin, Roger Lindsey and Andy Barnhart; Danny, Ryan, Trey and Joey Barnhart; and Randall and Bobby Harris.
A memorial service will be Saturday, June 4, at 10 a.m. at A.G. Rhodes Health and Rehab/Wesley Woods, 1819 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30329. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the wonderful A.G. Rhodes/Wesley Woods.