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Barbara Garrison, migrant health pioneer, dies at age 90

Barbara Joretta Hill Garrison, a family nurse practitioner who founded Henderson County’s first health clinic to serve migrant farmworkers and worked for more than three decades in community health, died Sunday, Aug. 7, at age 90.

A Henderson County native, Garrison established and served as the executive director of Blue Ridge Community Health in Hendersonville, from 1972 to 1997. In 1997, she began work for the Department of Health and Human Services, serving as a consultant for other community health centers.

Her awards include the NC Primary Care Association Award for Dedicated and Outstanding Service, National Association Community Health Centers; Migrant Health Public Service Award; James H. McDuffie Memorial Award for Outstanding Community Service; Great 100 Award for Nursing Excellence in North Carolina; American Dental Society to Increase Access for Dental Care for Special Populations; NC Department of Administration Council of Women nomination in Professional Category; Achievement Award for inspiring a generation of migrant and community health professionals from East Coast Migrant Friends and Colleagues; US Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Primary Care, for Caring Commitment to Farmworkers; and Henderson County VFW Woman of the Year. She was also an elder at Trinity Presbyterian Church.

She was a family nurse practitioner graduate from MAHEC — Mountain Area Health Education Center — and UNC-Chapel Hill with certification from the American Nurses Association. She was a graduate of UNC-Greensboro School of Nursing and also a graduate of the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program at UNC-Charlotte and was certified as a Public Health Nurse II by the N.C. State Board of Health.

She and her late husband, William Lloyd Garrison, were married for 64 years. The Garrison family’s legacy lives on not only for her pioneering career in public health but for the transition of the Garrison family orchard on Upward Road at I-26 into Garrison Industrial Park, which the city of Hendersonville, Henderson County and the Partnership for Economic Development jointly developed for manufacturing plants.

A native of Henderson County, Barbara Joretta Hill was born Oct. 31, 1931, to Sadie Clark Hill and Boney H. Hill. Survivors include two sons, William Lloyd Garrison Jr. and wife, Mary Kathleen, of Chapel Hill, Tennessee; and Scott Earl Garrison of Hendersonville; a daughter, Carole Ann Garrison of Hampton, VA; grandchildren: Matthew William Garrison; Laura Kathleen and her husband, Brock Dugger, and William Lloyd Garrison III and his wife, Kristian Jeannin, all of Chapel Hill, Tennessee.; great-grandchildren: Caroline Reece, Amelia Jolene, William Lloyd IV and Catherine Ryen, all of Chapel Hill, Tennessee; and three brothers, Maurice “Bud” D. Hill and Thomas W. Hill of Zirconia and G. Tony Hill of Nokomis, Fla. She was preceded in death by a sister, Vivian Hill Jones.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, at Trinity Presbyterian Church with the Rev. Mark Stanley officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Blue Ridge Health, PO Box 5151, Hendersonville, NC 28793. Attn: Kathryn McConnell, Director of Philanthropy, or by phone at 828-233-2209.