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A celebration of life will be held in honor of Gary on Saturday November 11, 2023 at 2 PM at Darlington Cremation and Burial Service.
Gary Patrick Barker completed his last earthly journey on Sunday, November 5, 2023 when he entered into eternal heavenly rest, a victim of lung cancer for the last 6 months of his life.
Gary was born in Wallace, Idaho September 10, 1948 to Clifford Barker and Betty Montgomery Barker, their 2nd child and only boy joining a sister Vicki. Soon the family added two more sisters, Janice and Susan.
He grew up just outside of Pinehurst, Idaho in a small community up Pine Creek called Barkerville. The Barker family owned several houses there which were occupied by family workers of the lumber mills owned by Gary's grandfather Robert Barker. Gary spoke often of the lumber mills, one being at Pine Creek, and the other located at Magee, Idaho. Barker Lumber Company employed many workers, and Gary especially loved to tell stories of his times at the Magee mill.
When Gary was a toddler he contracted polio and was hospitalized for extensive periods of time while the doctors rebuilt his leg muscles allowing him to walk. Though he had a slight limp left from the disease, he was ever grateful to the Shriner's of Spokane, Wa. for sponsoring his recovery. He struggled with the effects and surgeries until his teen years.
When Gary was 8 years old his father passed away leaving him to be the man of the family. During those difficult times he leaned on the wisdom of his grandfathers and uncles for the counsel and advice he needed as he became a man. He often shared fond memories of living on his own for a summer at age 13, and working odd jobs at the lumber mill for his Grandpa Barker, and fishing with his Grandpa Yancy.
Gary attended elementary school through 9th grade in Pinehurst, and completed high school graduating from Kellogg High School. He obtained a Bachelors Degree in Forestry from North Idaho College in Coeur d'Alene. During his college days he lived with his grandmother Rose Jones, and was forever grateful for her hospitality and loving guidance during that time. He also worked very hard to pay his own tuition for college by holding various jobs with Bunker Hill Mining Co. including being a zinc stripper in the zinc plant, which he described as a "terrible job".
In 1970 Gary married Iona McCorkel. They settled in Pinehurst and welcomed their son James. The birth of daughter Jessica a few years later completed their family. Sadly, the couple divorced later, but Gary took his role as a father seriously and was ever present in the rearing of his children as they spent the greater share of their childhood in his care.
Working in forestry for a short time, it became apparent to Gary that he should find a less physically demanding job for his left leg which was weak after having polio. After an invitation to look into insurance work, Gary became a Farmers Insurance agent, opening his own business in Pinehurst, Id. Wanting to build his business, he made the decision in 1982 to relocate to Kalispell. There he fell in love with the wide valley, mountains, rivers and lakes.
Gary was introduced to kayaking soon after moving to the Flathead valley. Unable to participate in many sports due to the polio, he quickly learned the art of whitewater kayaking finding that it was the sport where he excelled. He made many wonderful friends and was a member of the Glacier Kayak Club through those early years. Though he enjoyed a variety of outdoor activities including dirt biking, atv riding, whitewater rafting, snowmobiling, hiking and fishing, his first love was kayaking and he made use of every opportunity to do so. His kayaking took him to Chile, Costa Rica, Equador, the Grand Canyon, Bruno, Flathead, Swan, and other rivers and streams in the northwest and Canada, but his all time favorites were the Lochsa River and Little North Fork of the Clearwater in Idaho. He was proud to have made his last Lochsa trip this spring at age 74 and a half.
During his high school years Gary fell in love with music, especially lead guitar. He practiced long and became an exceptional guitar player, and singer as well. He belonged to several bands during his years. "Just In Time" and "Kicks" in Idaho, and "Centerline" in Kalispell to name a few. In 1996 he bought a computer background and sound system and began a new adventure in music. He edited out the guitar parts and played his own lead guitar and decided to strike out on his own on a different musical path. It was at this time that he needed a female vocalist and met Connie Hansberry Radish through her brother Randy and they began a duo, "Country RockIt". They enjoyed many venues throughout northwest Montana and Idaho. Most recently Gary began playing bass guitar locally with "The Banned", last playing some songs with them at his daughters wedding in September. He would sit in with various bands when needed, and was always eager to join in a jam session.
In 2000 Gary married Connie, the love of his life. They continued to perform together musically and she joined him working in the office. He retired from Farmers Insurance in 2017, but continued his business on a smaller scale until this past October after over 50 years as an agent. He became acquainted with many fine folks during this time and will be remembered as a man of generosity, honesty and integrity, always working for his client's best interest.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents Clifford and Betty Barker.
His survivors include his wife Connie of 23 years, son Chief Petty Officer James (Jacqui) Barker, USN (ret.) daughter Jessica (Brad) McManus, step daughters Pamela Lemer, Nicole (Pat) Cheff , grandchildren Chelsey (Cole) Molyneaux, Bobby Murphy, Gage Handwork, Emily Lemer, Leah Telles, Jenna Barker, Matthew Lemer, Cynthia Killingsworth, and great granchildren Wesley, Aurora, Benjamin and Ellie Jo, sisters, Vicki Barker, Janice Bebee, Susan Barker, several cherished nieces, nephews, cousins and beloved friends.
Memorial Services were held under the direction of Darlington Cremation and Burial Services, on November 11, 2023.