SURPRISE: 2018 graduates of Simmons College brought to tears by $1,000 gifts

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A board member of Simmons College and Louisville-area philanthropist has died.

According to a news release, 79-year-old Cecil "Barney" Barnett passed away suddenly Tuesday.

Barnett, who was the college's Board of Trustees chair, had served for three years with the school. 

He made headlines for his philanthropic acts, which included a $4 million donation to the school, as well as personal gifts of $1,000 to each member of the college's 2018 graduating class.

"Barney never forgot what it was like to grow up disadvantaged," Simmons College President Rev. Dr. Kevin W. Cosby said in a statement. "Once he was prospered, he used his blessings to assist others who were less fortunate. He was one of the best and truest friends west Louisville ever had. I could not have survived as president of Simmons without his support, wisdom and encouragement. He was a true partner in our building up this institution."

Funeral services will be held at St. Stephen Church, at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 20.

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