Kenny Dale

November 17, 1947 - March 28, 2024

Dr. Kenny Dale Barfield, age 76, went to his heavenly home on Thursday, March 28, 2024.  He was a loving son, husband, father, grandfather, friend, coach, minister, and teacher to many and will be greatly missed by those who loved him. His patience, kindness and humbleness, as well as the way he lived his life serving others with a love for the Lord, blessed all those who knew him.

A visitation will be held on Monday, April 1, 2024, from 4 pm until 7 pm at Sherrod Avenue Church of Christ in which the family will receive guests in the church’s sanctuary. There will be a private burial in Tri-Cities Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

Kenny was born in Florence, Alabama, on November 17, 1947. He was a graduate of Mars Hill Bible School. He graduated from Lipscomb University with a Bachelors of Arts in Speech Communication, the University of Alabama with a Masters of Arts in Speech Communication, the University of North Alabama with a Masters in Educational Administration, and the University of Alabama with a Doctorate of Education.

Kenny was the Headmaster Emeritus of Mars Hill Bible School, where he served for over 50 years as a teacher, debate coach, academic dean, principal, and headmaster. He served as the private school representative for the Alabama Committee of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for five years.

Kenny was a founding member of both the National Speech and Debate Association’s Deep South Division and the Alabama Speech and Debate Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Alabama Speech and Debate Coaches Hall of Fame and also the National Speech and Debate Association Hall of Fame. Kenny was named a Key Coach of the Barkley Forum at Emory University. He earned the honor of serving as the first coach from Alabama to be awarded the 6th Diamond Award by the NSDA. He twice earned the High School Coach of the Year Award from Carson-Newman University and the Greg Phifer Award from Florida State University and was named a Faulkner Fellow at the University of Mississippi and was elected to the Bishop Guild at Samford University. Kenny advocated for and helped establish the Academic All-American Award of the National Speech and Debate Association to honor the competitive accomplishments of high school students in speech and debate along with their academic excellence. At his retirement, debate coaches at the Alabama State Tournament voted to name the Public Forum Debate the Dr. Kenny Barfield Public Forum Championship. In January 2022, the Barkley Forum at Emory University named the first elimination round of the Public Forum Debate in his honor, the Dr. Kenny Barfield Tutorial. During his tenure, Kenny’s students competed nationally and earned a national novice debate championship, numerous state and district titles, and hundreds of awards at local, regional, and national competitions. Mars Hill thrice qualified to represent Alabama at the Bicentennial Youth Debates, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Kenny found tremendous enjoyment in research, reading, and writing. In addition to numerous articles, he authored the following books: Interscholastic Debate and Critical Thinking Skills; 50 Golden Years: The NFL Nationals; Why the Bible is Number 1; The Prophet Motive; The Things That Were, The Things That Are, The Things That Will Be: Allowing the Bible to Interpret the Book of Revelation (Volumes 1 & 2); Fine-Tuned for Life; Still #1; From Glory to Glory: This is Jesus’ Story; and Are You Kidding Me?

Kenny served as a minister, assistant minister, elder, and educational director of Sherrod Avenue Church of Christ for over 40 years. Kenny also served as a youth minister for Highland Park Church of Christ and Jackson Heights Church of Christ.

Despite his many academic and professional accomplishments, Kenny was most proud of his family. Kenny met Nancy Cordray at Lipscomb University and they married on August 7, 1970. Kenny and Nancy were blessed with daughters Amber and Lora. Kenny will be remembered for his love for the Lord and his church, for his family, and for others.

Kenny was preceded in death by his parents Henry Perry Barfield, Jr. and Bernice Olive Barfield and his grandparents, Wiley Lee and Clura Olive and Harriet Barfield Hester and Henry Perry Barfield, Sr. He is survived by his loving wife of 53 years, Nancy Cordray Barfield of Florence, Alabama; daughter Amber Barfield Gilmer (Scott) of Brentwood, Tennessee; daughter Lora Barfield Retherford (Jeremy) of Birmingham, Alabama; and four grandchildren: Adaline Elizabeth Gilmer of Brentwood, Tennessee, Henry Jackson Retherford, Allyn Elizabeth Retherford and Evelyn Anne Retherford of Birmingham, Alabama.

The family would like to express their heartfelt appreciation to Dr. Ty Ashley and his staff, to the North Alabama Medical Center Paracentesis Unit, and to Dr. David Fettig and the UAB Gastroenterology Department for their excellent care.

Kenny dedicated his life to serving others and would be honored if, in lieu of flowers, memorials were made to Sherrod Avenue Church of Christ; to the Barfield Scholarship Fund at Mars Hill Bible School; or to the National Speech & Debate Association.


April 1, 2024
4:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Monday 4/1/24
4:00 - 7:00 pm
Sherrod Ave. Church of Christ


Sherrod Avenue Church of Christ, Sherrod Avenue, Florence, Alabama, USA

April 1, 2024 4:00 pm

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11 Comments on “Kenny Dale Barfield”

  1. So sorry that Kenny has passed, but we believe he is in a better place, free of pain and suffering.

  2. Sharing my sympathies on the loss of a wonderful person. Despite his incredible accomplishments, he always took the time to stop and talk to me. He meant a lot to me; to all of us.

  3. During his lifetime, Kenny exhibited the qualities of a true professional and dedicated servant leader. I’m grateful for the times our paths crossed over the years and for all he gave to our community.

  4. We extend our deepest sympathy and will be praying for your family. My late mother and I worked at the preschool and Dr. Barfield was alwsys so kind to us and our family. He was more helpful to us than most knew. He was a fine example of a good Christian and will be greatly missed.

  5. So very sorry to hear this news. Our deepest condolences to the entire Barfield and Gilmer families.

  6. Our thoughts will be with you as you travel through this time in your lives. He left a wonderful Godly legacy and this will give you peace in the following days.🙏 Sherron & Gary Powell

  7. James Copeland
    04.01 At 6:12 PM

    Dr. Barfield was pillar of the Debate and Speech community! This Godly man was enormously influential locally and nationally. He taught his students and
    colleagues, in a quiet way. We will all miss him. Our prayers and condolences to his friends and family. James Copeland

  8. Dr. Barfield was a pillar of the Speech and Debate Community. This Godly man taught his students and colleagues in a quiet way. He will be sorely missed.
    NFL/NSDA members and Hall of Fame members morn his passing, and offer our prayers to his family.

  9. Kenny was one of the first coaches I got to know early in my career. He was a lovely, Southern gentleman.
    Very kind to me and always looking out for all of our students.
    He will be missed.

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