Rick, Jenny, and Wortham Barnes

On the occasion of her father-in-law’s 89th birthday, Jenny Barnes asked him what he was most proud of in his life. The answer was a bit unexpected.

“AT&T,” he told her without hesitation. At first, she was surprised by her father-in-law, Wortham’s, response given the setting of a family party, but – being a 46-year AT&T veteran herself – it quickly began to make sense.

The Start of a Tradition

Wortham began his career as a Cable Splicer Assistant in the late 1950’s, after attending Tennessee Tech University. He had turned down a pro baseball career to stay home with his wife – now a fellow AT&T retiree, Shirley, who worked in assignment and repair.

Wortham is most proud of the work he did as a Manager in Memphis, overseeing plant maintenance. When he took on the role, Memphis’ cable facilities and working conditions were in a bad state. He implemented steps to turn things around and took Memphis from worst to best in the company during his tenure.

One of the major changes he implemented began in the small West Tennessee town of Paris, where Wortham applied the first pressure to cables, allowing the pressurization to protect and keep 100 year old cables dry. That implementation was so successful, he moved to Memphis and implemented it city wide. That technique was then implemented across the nation, and is still in use today.

“I am so proud to have made AT&T a lifetime career and to see the impact my work has made on building a reliable communications network,” Wortham said.

Making a Difference in Difficult Times

Shirley, Rick, and Wortham

Wortham and Shirley’s work would turn into a true family legacy when both their sons followed the family tradition and joined AT&T in the 1970’s. Much like their parents, they would both meet their wives working with us, too.

Rick, Jenny’s husband, quickly made a difference as a technician. Before he retired, Rick was on the frontlines connecting our customers for decades. His sense of loyalty and hard work ethic were handed down directly by his father. It often meant he would spring into action when disaster struck, too.

He was integral to restoring service both during the Nashville tornado in 1998 and the Nashville flood in 2010. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Rick declined an offer to stay home with pay. Instead, he opted to work through those early days of uncertainty. As Rick put it, he simply couldn’t stand to think of a hospital or elderly customers being left without service.

A quiet and humble man, Rick says, “the best part of working for AT&T was helping clients in critical times.” Rick finished his career as a facility tech in 2020, maintaining central office air pressure and continuing the work his father started so many years earlier.

Even after retirement, his passion for making a positive difference in people’s lives continues. When the Christmas bombing occurred in Nashville in 2020, he was on the phone and advising the first techs on the scene on how best to restore service.

Decades of Innovation

Jenny in front of the AT&T building in Nashville

Today, Jenny is maintaining the family tradition as the latest member of the Barnes family with retirement on the horizon instead of in the rearview. She’s currently in the role of AT&T Consulting & Pro Services Business Development Manager, but she has held many key roles in sales and marketing over her 40+ years. In that time, she’s embraced unparalleled growth opportunities and built meaningful relationships she never imagined starting out.

At AT&T, she was able to earn her MBA in Telecommunications and has traveled the country. She’s been on the ground floor of innovative technologies – including the Internet of Things, FirstNet®, and our first ever fiber offering.

Jenny tells us she’s “proud of the innovation AT&T has brought to our lives, and my small part in transforming lives through technology.” Whether providing secure voice cell service for the President and FBI or delivering fast fiber for hardcore gamers, every project was impactful for Jenny and our clients.

“I also appreciate the strong diversity and inclusion focus and the ability to serve with employee resource groups, like Women of AT&T,” she adds. “If you’re looking for a career where you can truly make a difference, AT&T will provide you unparalleled opportunities.

“And what I’m most proud of – the relationships I’ve built through the years. Relationships that have stood the test of time. Relationships that run deep and are real and true –  built on faith and as strong as family.”

For many of our team members, #LifeAtATT is way more than a job. For some, like Jenny Barnes, it’s a family affair. Together, the Barnes family shares a decades long history of service and creating meaningful connections for the members of their community.

We agree with Wortham: that’s something to be proud of.

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