Ray “Papa” Barker passed away [September 5, 2011] at home in Ukiah CA, with loving family and friends surrounding him. He had little time to prepare (5 days) after a very fast moving cancer was diagnosed, but managed to communicate his wishes. His son, Greg Barker, was serenading him on guitar with a favorite Beatles song, Black Bird, as he slipped away peacefully. It was truly beautiful.
Ray lived a full life in so many ways, He served his country, he raised two children, and he had a purposeful life of teaching and learning. If you knew him you knew he cared deeply about people, purpose and honor. He took each responsibility seriously and was loyal to a fault. He loved classic cars, Duesenberg being his favorite, and he loved beautiful women!
He was born in Ft. Scott, Kansas, at home, to Opal Nadine and Raymon Maxell Barker. He was separated from his parents as well as his older brother at a very young age. He grew up in an orphanage, various foster homes and with other relatives from time to time.
He joined the U.S. Marine Corps on his 17th birthday. He referred to this day as the day he was reborn. He served in WWII in the Pacific Theater.
Unit-4th Marine Regiment/1st Raider Battalion.
Rank-Private 1st Class MOS, 0341-Mortar Man
Locations-New Caledonia, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
He was very proud to be on the First Marine Raiders [Battalion] and when asked of all the medals, awards and qualified badges he received, what is the most meaningful to you and why? Ray said “The Raider Shoulder Patch. A 17 year old boot couldn’t aspire to more than that.” He also picked up the nickname Chick, because he was the youngest in his platoon.
The Korean War called him back to active duty; this time he was assigned 1st Tank Battalion, C Company mortar man, tank crewman, corporal. His platoon was in many battles of infamy, they were the 1st wave on Inchon and he was also one of the Chosin Few, veteran of the Chosin reservoir. He was awarded 2 Purple Hearts and many other medals of honor for his service. He was always proud to have served his country. Semper Fi!
Ray went to college on the GI Bill and gained a certificate in engineering, but with guidance from an advisor he pursued a degree at the College of Arts and Crafts where he obtained a Masters in Art Education, and a minor in history. Ray later attended the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco State University where he received credentials in education supervision and administration.
Ray was a natural born teacher. He became an educator, performing various teaching assignments. When Pacific High School was built it became his home and family for many wonderful years many of which he spent as student activities director, a fixture whenever students were having a good time. At that time, he was also involved in a Bay area musical group called “The Youth of America”, of which he was tour director from 1959 to 1974. This musical group traveled nationwide playing venues from the 1967 World’s Fair in Toronto to several USO shows with Bob Hope. His son Greg was also a member of this Youth of America Band.
Along the way, he left the classroom and went on to become part of the administration teams of Pacific High School, Lincoln Continuation, and lastly San Leandro High, retiring after 37 years, in 1986, as high school principal after the last of the Pacific students had graduated.
His desire to teach never left him. After his retirement, Ray volunteered for 16 years as a docent of the Oakland Zoo. He served various roles for the zoo from docent council to driving the train for the kids! He was active in his retirement years; keeping in close contact with his colleagues from all walks of life along with his painting, photography and most of all spending time with his family and friends. The last ten years he lived in Ukiah with his daughter and her family .
He was a scholar of history, his favorite being the Roman Empire. Ray devoured thousands of books in his lifetime and he liked to share his learned wisdoms with anyone willing or curious. He will be remembered always for his quick wit, big heart and generous spirit. He was a brave man throughout his life and did not live in fear of his death, only concern for those he leaves behind. He loved each and every one of you with all his heart.
He is survived by: son, Greg (Charlotte) Barker of Lodi; daughter, Marla (Doug) Anderson of Ukiah; Kathy Barker, ex-wife and best friend of Rio Vista; Dorothy Mueller, ex-wife and mother to his children of Stockton; and brother, Kendall Maxell Barker of Florida. Grandchildren, Kelle (Matt) Bender of Lodi, Todd (Eleace) Barker of Oakdale, Amanda (Ian) Bender of Lodi, Julee (Brandon) Wheeler of Hopland, Jeffrey Giacomini of Ukiah, Alison, Audrey and Edward Anderson of Ukiah, many great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and friends. No formal services will be held; at his request his remains are being sent to Arlington National Cemetery where he will be buried with full military honors.