Ernest E. Barker, true to his understated style, bowed quietly out of this world this past week. Born at home in rural Arkansas on June 15, 1926, he was the middle son of Elizabeth (Keith) Barker and Albert Sidney Barker. His father farmed outside Taylor, Arkansas until he fell ill with tuberculosis. Ernie’s beloved Uncle Perry became his surrogate father after Albert’s death. At age 17, Ernie left home to join the Merchant Marines, becoming an engineer on a victory ship during the Korean War. Upon his return to the US, Ernie worked his way up the ladder at Shell Chemical, in later years working full time and studying law at night. In his law practice, Ernie inspired loyalty among his clients, cultivating many durable friendships along the way. In 1982, he sailed his 41 foot yawl to the South Pacific and back, with two of his sons joining him on separate legs of the journey. In his retirement, Ernie remained active; he helped restore and worked as an engineer on the retired victory ship S.S. Lane Victory. He was a quiet leader in this non-profit organization, and loved the work and his co-workers. Ernie was a gifted woodworker, craftsman, mechanic, and all-around handyman. He was an amateur painter, and he has left his children the gift of many writings documenting his life experiences. He was a voracious reader and extremely intelligent. He was driven, organized and goal-oriented.
Ernie’s two marriages brought him three children and three step-children—he treated all six as his own, and all called him simply, “Ernie.” One daughter, Nanette, preceded him in death as well as one brother, Sid. Surviving him are brother June (Albert, Jr.), cousin Sue (sister to Ernie in everything but name), sister-in-law Florence, and niece Penny; children Reneé, Bill, Bruce, Steve and Phil; grandchildren Tobi, Kaci, Logan, Karson, Cross, Seve, Lexi and Brooklyn; great-granddaughter Devyn; and this entire community of loving friends.