John L. Barker (RIP)

Written by Rebecca (Becky) Barker

Click arrow below to listen to “Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” By Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson

John was born on November 30, 1945 in Beaumont Texas to Elbert Wesley Barker and Lona Belle Barker.  He had three older siblings, Janice Sue (1/2 sister), Tracy, and Douglas.  His father was a pipeline welder by trade.  He moved the family quite often during John’s early life.  The family moved to Midland when John was in the second grade. 

He attended South Elementary the 2nd through 6th grades.  His parents divorced when John was ten or eleven.  His mother worked all the time to support the family.  This left John and his brothers on their own most of the time.  John told me that his mother purchased summer passes to the swimming pool at Halff Park.  He spent most of his days during the summers in his elementary years swimming in that pool.  Also, he said that when it came time to go home, he would run barefoot from the pool to their home on South Camp St.  He sure must have had some tough feet.  His older brother Tracy worked at the Halff pool as a lifeguard.  I don’t know if Doug ever worked as a lifeguard, but John was never a lifeguard.

John and I, Rebecca Dillard Barker, were in the same class in the third grade.  Our class was in the second story of the old red brick building at South Elementary.  If the wind was blowing very hard, the building would sway.  We both were in the same class again in the fifth grade.  Neither one of us remembered the other being in that class, but we both remembered Miss Weaver bringing her tv to school and letting us watch the World Series.  We both remembered Charlie Huggins was in that class with us. John like the rest of us walked or rode a bike everywhere, in fact all over town.  On South Camp where John lived, the roads were gravel.  John had so many flat tires from the roads that he gave up and just walked or ran everywhere.

John was a very quite, methodical, , unassuming, modest, loyal, kind, and industrious individual.  Eddie Klatt says that John Barker was a good friend.  They were friends from a very early age. I think he had many friends during his lifetime.  He had a good sense of humor and enjoyed teasing others.  The quality that I and others saw in him was that he could take teasing well also.  He never provoked a fight but could handle one if necessary.  One of Doug’s peers found this out the hard way.  The guy had a beef with Doug and decided he would take it out on little brother.  The results were not good for him, but John told me that after that fight, he never had any problems with his brother’s school mates.


The Story of Four Boys from Midland

As told by Charlie Huggins (MHS Class of 1964)

This picture is 1997 at the Governor’s Mansion at our reunion.  From left to right are John Barker, Eddie Klatt, Charlie Huggins, and Butch Parks.

Eddie Klatt graduated the same year as me, 1964.  We had gone to school together at South Elementary, Cowden Junior High and Midland High School, Odessa College and North Texas State University. I was friends with him until his passing in June of 2020. I used to love calling him to talk about old times. We had a lot of good memories. I remember the first year that we arrived at North Texas University in 1966. Eddie, another classmate of ours, Butch Parks, and I all roomed together in an apartment close to the North Texas campus. The three of us shared the very small apartment with three half beds.  There was not very much room there. At the end of the semester, I decided to stay in the same apartment complex but to move to an efficiency apartment by myself. This would allow Butch and Eddie to remain in the first apartment and have more room. We all hung out together and we had some good times. Eddie went to school at North Texas until 1968, and then he moved back to Midland. Eddie joined the fire department shortly thereafter. He remained with the Midland Fire Department for 32 years and his last held position there was Assistant Fire Chief. Eddie’s father had been a Fire Marshal back in the day, and Eddie was familiar with being a fire fighter. My son, Josh, is also a fire fighter and he is a Captain. Eddie and I used to talk about my son and Eddie was glad to know that my son was also a fire fighter. Being a fire fighter was Eddie’s life and he was really well respected. When Eddie died in June, they had a graveside service and they played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes. It was very beautiful. Even though his service was during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people came to the service because many people knew him. He had lived in Midland almost all of his life. Eddie was married to Cindy Shoeman. They were married for over 30 years and lived on West Holloway.

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A Tribute to John L Barker (MHS 1964)

June 10, 2022 a special tribute to Cpt John L Barker took place at the American Legion in Midland, Texas. Friends and Family of the late John Barker gathered to celebrate his military career. Lunch was catered by Michael’s Charcoal Grill. Dr. John McElligott, founder of the “What’s in the Water in Midland, Texas” blog presented Becky Dillard Barker (MHS 1964) with her late husband’s military honors. The following article and pictures appeared in the Class of 1964 newsletter: