Frank Elliott Barnett

Gov. Frank Elliott Barnett

American Samoa

October 1, 1976 - May 27, 1977

July 20, 1933

July 15, 2016


University of Tennessee

Birth State

Military Service:

married; two children


Frank Barnett was the 49th Governor of American Samoa from October 1, 1976 to May 27, 1977. A 1950 graduate of Knoxville High School, Mr. Barnett attended the University of Tennessee, served in the U.S. Marine Corps and graduated from UT’s law school in 1959. During his time at UT, he was captain of the swim team. While he first served as a special agent for the FBI before becoming a founding partner of the Baker, Worthington, Barnett and Crossley law firm, his career ultimately took a more political turn.

When he left the law firm, he became executive assistant to former Gov. Winfield Dunn and would later manage the statewide campaign for President Richard Nixon. From 1975 to 1977, Mr. Barnett served as lieutenant governor and governor of American Samoa, which he was appointed to by President Gerald Ford.

Other accomplishments included helping to bring China as an exhibitor to the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville; being instrumental in the formation of the Tennessee Center for International Studies in Knoxville; and serving as a general development officer for the United States Agency for International Development in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where in 2010 he was involved in a portable water project, infrastructure development and obtaining funding for a new law school.

Mr. Barnett passed away on July 15, 2016 and was survived by his wife of more than 40 years, Carolyn, two children and a brother.