Barbara Haynes

Former Davidson County Judge Barbara Haynes.

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Former Davidson County judge Barbara Haynes died on Thursday after a prolonged illness, according to her family. She was 84.

“Our mother was a force of nature that loved deeply and worked and played hard! She loved making a difference in public service, in charity work through so many organizations, and through helping people day in and day out! But she was always just our mother and we will miss her,” the family said in a statement.

Haynes was married to former state Sen. Joe Haynes, who died in 2018, for 58 years.

Haynes was first elected as General Sessions Judge in 1982 before being elected Circuit Court Judge in 1990. She served on the bench for 29 years before retiring on Nov. 15, 2011.

“Judge Barbara Haynes was a role model, mentor and champion for women across Tennessee,” Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee said in a statement. “She was a friend to all and excelled as a lawyer and judge. Prayers for her family. She will be missed."

In 1986, then Gov. Lamar Alexander appointed Haynes as Chair of the Tennessee Sentencing Commission, a position she held until 1994. In 2004, then Gov. Phil Bredesen appointed Haynes chair of a task force for the purpose of immediately studying the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Blakely v. Washington and recommending changing to Tennessee’s sentencing laws o remove the constitutional infirmities of the statutes.

She also served as president of the Tennessee General Sessions Judges’ Conference in 1988.

“Gary and I send our thoughts and condolences to the friends and family of Judge Barbara Haynes,” Davidson County General Sessions Judge Melissa Blackburn said in a statement. “She was a larger-than-life figure, a trailblazer on and off the bench and a tremendous leader for the Nashville community. We will miss her.”

An active member of the Nashville community, Haynes has received numerous awards for championing women’s issues. In 2010, Haynes was one of seven women inducted into the YWCA’s Academy for Women of Achievement; and in 1989, the Tennessee Lawyers’ Association for Women named her Woman of the Year. In 2010, she also received the Tennessee Bar Association’s award for outstanding judicial service.

“Barbara Haynes was truly brilliant. Her phenomenal memory, razor wit, iron-clad legal reasoning, and endless curiosity were only eclipsed by her passion for Democratic politics,” U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper said in a statement. “Nashville owes more of its success to Barbara and the remarkable Haynes family that anyone knows. No public figure in recent Nashville history will be more missed.”

Haynes grew up in North Nashville, Bordeaux and eventually Inglewood and graduated from Isaac Litton High School.  She was the first person in her family to go to college when she attended and graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1959. She met and married Joe Haynes while in college.

Haynes was busy outside of family and work including mentoring other women and pulling them up along the way. She was in the first Leadership Nashville Class. She conducted all of the early Project Pencil adoptions from its inceptions so children could see a female judge while she proudly wore her red robe.

Barbara and Joe Haynes raised three children, Jeffery Norman Haynes (Lucy), Scott Kendall Haynes (Julie) and Amanda Elizabeth Haynes Young (Stephen). They had seven grandchildren who they loved to spoil: William Campbell Haynes, Richard Furman Haynes, Benjamin Hardin Haynes, Caroline Davis Haynes, Madden Haynes Young, Adam Gillespie Young and Mary Neely Young, all affectionately called her “BeeBee.”

She was preceded in death by her infant daughter Amy, her parents, her favorite uncle Edward “Bud” Norman, her brother, J.D. Norman Jr. “Jerry” and his wife Pat. She is survived by her children and grandchildren, her brother Kenny Norman, her sister-in-law Kathleen Haynes, nieces, nephews and a host of friends.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Barbara Haynes Scholarship at Harpeth Hall School; Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Project Pencil or a charity of your choice. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, 4WARN weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from News4 Nashville.

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