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Dr. Marylou Barnes

The lead gift for the Morrison Bruce Center is the Dr. Marylou Riddleberger Barnes Endowed Gift for Faculty Development. In addition to this gift which Marylou made through a trust left to James Madison University upon her death, she made another gift to the operations fund of the new center. Because of her vast experience in academia, she knows how difficult it is to find operations money for a new program.

Born and raised in her beloved Shenandoah Valley, Marylou Barnes was graduated from Madison College in 1952 with a BS degree in Physical Education. In 1968 she returned to James Madison University to pursue a Master’s degree in Counseling. While an undergraduate at Madison, she played field hockey, forward for the basketball team and catcher for the softball team. She fondly recalls the high level of intramural sports on the campus at that time. Marylou recalls the School Chair, Dr. Sinclair’s active research and her own participation at the time. “We had a phenomenally powerful and accurate softball pitcher. Dr. Sinclair was interested in learning exactly how an accurate fast ball is thrown. As the catcher I was interested in her learning that too because the pitcher was killing me! My hand would be so swollen I could hardly stand it. Dr. Sinclair had a short film clip made and she would take the pitcher, me, and the film around to various schools and have us demonstrate. Dr. Sinclair was always investigating something. I could swim with great effort but I could not float. Not having an ounce of body fat at the time I would sink straight to the bottom.” Dr. Sinclair would continuously declare, ‘Maryl-o-u, you need to turn over on your back and float.’ When that didn’t work, Dr. Sinclair tied volleyballs to Marylou’s ankles and then had others come in to watch as Marylou barely managed to keep her nose and nothing else above water.

Marylou had been teaching high school in Petersburg, Virginia when, on a dare, she applied to and was subsequently accepted into the physical therapy program at the Medical Collage of Virginia. The profession of physical therapy was to become her lifelong passion and, never entering into anything half way, she was to put her own unique stamp on it.

Marylou R. Barnes, Ed.D, Sc.D. is a Professor Emerita of Georgia State University. She has been a master clinician, a gifted supervisor and clinic chief. She was the founding Director of the physical therapy program at West Virginia University and Chair at GSU. Under her aegis both of these programs and their faculties achieved national recognition, and since that auspicious beginning she has become a legend in her own time. During her 11 years at WVU Dr. Barnes was appointed Chair of the Athletic Council, thought to be the first woman to chair an athletic council at a Division I University. Throughout her career she has demonstrated excellence in facilitating learning and is an inventive and inspiring teacher and administrator.

Marylou has a very rare talent for leadership and management with an uncanny sense of foresight and vision for the future. She was often sought as a speaker, not only for her oratorical skills and well known sense of humor, but because she can convey a message of importance and substance. Her contributions through the written word are just as legendary. With her long time friend, Dr. Carolyn Crutchfield, she has co-authored some of the first texts ever produced for the profession by physical therapists. As her peers have noted, “Marylou Barnes has been the model of a complete and competent professional woman. She has always been just a little ahead of her time espousing or implementing new and not always popular opinions and actions. Dr Barnes is considered to be a “leader among leaders”.”

Dr. Barnes’ visionary abilities fueled by her passionate ideals are tempered by her practical sense of reality. Her innovation, leadership, and service have been recognized by many honors and awards, among them: 1995 American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Leadership in Education; 1995 APTA Service Award for the Section on Neurology; 1994 Catherine Worthingham Fellow (37th therapist thus designated); 1993 Honorary Doctorate, University of Indianapolis; 1992 25th Mary McMillan Award, the highest award bestowed by APTA; 1988 APTA, Lucy Blair Service Award; 1978 JMU Distinguished Alumni Award.

Marylou and Carolyn were both part of the American Physical Therapy Association’s exchange programs to Russia (’77), China (’80), and Kenya (’85). Over the years they have most enjoyed participating in archeological digs in Europe, particularly in Pompeii; traveling, and studying history. Currently Marylou is the self-appointed cheerleader for her 5 grandchildren’s sports teams.