Orval Richard Barker was born at home in North Logan, Utah, to Irvin Lee Barker and Ida Lucile Aschliman. It had been a difficult pregnancy, and although he was healthy and full-term, he only weighed 4 pounds. He was the second son and the family lived in a small house on the farm of his grandfather. The house had no electricity or running water, and Lee struggled to find steady work. It was the Great Depression, when jobs were hard to come by. The house had a dirt floor and a whitewashed exterior, homemade insulation, and an outside access to the loft where the boys slept, which their family goat sometimes climbed.
Daddy remembered working in the garden and orchard with his grandfather, and that the reason they had food to eat was that it was homegrown or bagged while hunting or fishing. He remembered his mom going hungry so that the children would have food, and he remembered moving into a house with electricity, because his bobby-pin “airplane” fit just right into the electric outlet, and he still has the scar to remember it by.
One of his most precious Christmas memories was of a year when his dad had been away from the family working at projects where groups of men stayed at the work location, as part of the Works Progress Administration, like the Civilian Conservation Corps. He had been at a Forest Service Camp, when an early snow threatened to block them in, and managed to get out for Christmas by walking several miles in deep snow. Dad always teared up when he told the story, saying his dad brought them an orange, and promised he wouldn’t leave the family for work again. After that, the family traveled with him to various jobs, including a coal mine in Wyoming and a bomb depot in California, where Lee learned carpentry skills that benefitted the family from that point forward.
In California, the infamous “horny-toad story” originated, along with adventures of “Pistol-packin-mama”, a popular song that somewhat accurately described his sharp-shooter mom, who served as a guard in addition to various other jobs. The story is that Tom and Dick had caught a horned toad, but had to go get their papers and sell them when the men got off work, so they tied the toad with a string to the kitchen table leg, leaving a note for their mother saying something like, “Dear Mom, please don’t step on our horny toad”. Apparently, when they returned, their mom, who could outshoot her brothers, skin any animal alive, butcher and cook it too, was standing on top of the kitchen table, holding onto her skirts, acting very much afraid of the tiny, innocuous animal.
Dad used to tell us how he could get a quarter for allowance, or pay for selling newspapers, and with that quarter, go to a movie, get a soda and snack, and also buy a comic book, all of which he enjoyed regularly.
The whole family enjoyed camping, fishing and hunting, which later included many in-laws, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren.
After the war, when they settled in Idaho Falls. Summers, weekends, and any other possible free time was spent at the “Old Hole” along the Snake River in Island Park. Dad rode his motorcycle around all the roads up there, exploring until he knew it backwards and forwards.
Dad was quite young when he sold newspapers, not more than 10 or 11. Later, he helped clean the church and wax the floors, stoked the coal furnace, was a soda jerk and frycook at Albertson’s.
In High School, he was the easy mark for many pranks and jokes because of his small size. Tom and his friends might stuff him in a locker or dump him out the window when the teacher was called into the hallway, requiring Dick to walk in after the teacher. They also liked to put him on the water fountain.
He served as manager to the Boys Basketball team, traveling with them to two State Tournaments, where they won titles, and he was in plays, enjoying hamming it up. He also served as an advisor to younger boys, teaching the class that his brother Harry and Orma’s brother Earl were in at church, and taking them on hikes and adventures in his spare time.
About the time he graduated, Dick treated himself to a motorcycle trip to Logan, going to visit his aunts and uncles. When Janine was old enough to drive at night, and Pat could drive to help, he suggested and encouraged a similar trip for his two daughters to drive from Potlatch through Yellowstone and Teton Parks to Idaho Falls in advance of the rest of the family for an independent adventure, which was a lot of fun.
After high school he began working at the American National Bank as a “gofer” or errand boy, before becoming a cashier and learning how to use the new “franking” machines to process checks. This skill helped him qualify for the promotion when he transferred to Sandpoint.
“Dick”, as he was called, lived near Orma Holyoak. He took piano lessons for a short time from her mother, and told his family he wasn’t sure about the piano lessons, but the teacher sure had a pretty little girl. They married on January 8, 1954, and made their home in Idaho Falls until he received a promotion with a transfer to Sandpoint, Idaho in 1959. Janine and Patricia were born in Idaho Falls.
The family lived in Sandpoint from 1959 until 1964, when Dick became the manager of the Potlatch branch of the Idaho First National Bank. Elizabeth, or Betsy, was born in 1961.
People who only knew Dad in these past ten or fifteen years might have no idea of his earlier personality, before he retired and had his stroke and heart problems. Although he had a heart murmur from complications of rheumatic fever at age 6, he was very active in a variety of clubs and service organizations in addition to hiking, photography, hunting and fishing continuously.
He began building model airplanes in high school, and won awards and contests at the state level then. He built planes and competed when Janine was a baby, but he put them in storage and pursued other interests for several years when Jan, Pat & Betsy were growing up, only to plunge in full-force as Karen and David began to get a little older and as he finished up his service with the Potlatch Boosters Club and as Branch President of the Potlatch Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
In Sandpoint, Dad spearheaded organization of the local Archery Club, helping to build a new building that was shared by the rifle club and archery club. He would partner with friends or coworkers to go hiking or hunting, or arrange to meet a brother in the early pre-dawn hours on a mountain miles from nowhere, with no way to communicate changes of plans due to, say, an unexpected visit from bank auditors. Because his plans were detailed and precise, they were successful.
In Potlatch, Dad led first the Potlatch Booster Club, and later, the Lions Club. They fund-raised for a badly-needed new water well and storage facility with “Potlatch Logger Days”. As bank manager and loan officer, he had a strong influence on shifting the local economy’s dependence on the lumber mill to being more diversified and supporting local small businesses. He helped a restaurant get started, encouraged professionals including an optometrist, dentist, lawyer, to come to Potlatch one day a week. His influence wasn’t always appreciated, as he encouraged change, and his safety and life were threatened at times because of his efforts.
However, he had a positive and lasting effect on many community members.
He received a call to serve as Branch President when the Potlatch Branch of the Church was formed, and he and Mom knew about it before the church authorities approached him about it. He served 9 years, holding interviews and meetings in our house, traveling up to 40 or 50 miles to visit people or attend trainings and meetings, and devoting a large portion of his time to it. Camping, fishing and hunting even took a backseat during this time. A new phase building was built for the church, partially financed with projects like reclaiming bricks and having bake sales, and another building was built for the bank during the last few years in Potlatch.
Karen and David joined the family during this busy time, when Mom felt strongly that she needed to have more children, and her doctor no longer told her it wasn’t safe. They worked to be self-sufficient during the scary political climate of the 1970’s, putting in their own gas pump, ordering bulk food for home storage, and producing garden produce, chicken and rabbit meat, and goat milk in their back yard. They bought a succession of Volkswagen beetles and Subaru cars that could provide economical travel to Moscow, Lewiston and Spokane.
When both the Holyoak and Barker parents were getting older and less independent, and Janine and Pat had both moved to Southern Idaho, Dad put in for a transfer to Shelley, and in February of 1980, they moved “home”.
They were able to help care for all four of their parents in their declining health, in addition to providing lots of help with grandchildren.
Dick had time to devote to radio-controlled airplanes, a club for others with similar interests, development of the flying field, bird watching, camping , fishing and hunting. He also had more time for grandchildren, as Mom tended David and Daina’s children while she worked part time, and Dad was more involved than before. Precious memories were created over this time, playing games, going on hikes, fishing, camping, and just being together.
He served in Shelley as a Sunday School teacher, on the Shelley South Stake High Council, and as a Stake Clerk for finances.
In 2001, Dad’s Mitral heart valve failed, putting him in Congestive Heart Failure.
With an implant, he was given “another 15 years”.
In 2008, Dad suffered a stroke while working in his yard. He lost sensation on one side, and although he exercised and tried to get it back, he never could. He kept hoping, though.
In 2015, true to its life expectancy, Dad’s mitral valve wore out, and he began to experience severe difficulties. He kept working at being positive, joking frequently that he was “terrible, as usual”, completing a monthly bird survey as often as possible, attending some Airplane Club functions, and going to Dr. Appointments, Walmart and WINCO, walking when he was able, or in the wheelchair with Mom. In the spring of 2017, he was able to receive a better valve, but other complications kept arising, making his life one of constant balancing of medications and their effects. The last hope was for a “Watchman Device”, which would have blocked off the area of his heart where clots form, allowing him to quit taking the blood thinner. Unfortunately, the devices didn’t fit, and after three attempts, the doctor gave up.
Finally, on Tuesday, December 18, 2018, he suffered another stroke, and he took his final breaths on Saturday, December 22.
We love you, Dad
Funeral services will be held 11:00 A.M. Friday, December 28, 2018 at the Shelley South Stake Center (675 South Milton Ave). The family will meet with friends Thursday evening from 6:00 till 7:30 P.M. at Nalder Funeral Home (110 West Oak) in Shelley and Friday morning from 10:00 till 10:40 A.M. at the church. Burial will be in the Shelley Hillcrest Cemetery.