I'll always be his gal, Val
My Grandpa Barker passed away earlier this morning. He lived a really long and full life and I'm lucky to have had him for 37 years.
I have a lot of fun memories of Grandpa. Just a few of my memories: He used to take my cousins and me "camping" in his motorhome in the pasture. He was an excellent chef of beef and barley soup for dinner and corned beef hash for breakfast. He never seemed to care how much racket we made when we were playing in the basement or sliding down the stairs on a mattress. Every once in a while, he would come in the house and exclaim that it looked like a tornado had gone through, but we knew we weren't in trouble. He once bought a car with an alarm system. He didn't want an alarm, so he took it off the car and installed it on one of the 4-wheelers. It made for a great time playing cops and robbers on the 4-wheelers. To this day, I can predict the next sound that a car alarm will make as it cycles through the alarm sounds.
He was always doing something fun or playing a joke on Grandma, making her say, "Oh Lyle!" when she realized he was pulling her leg. For example, after he and Grandma went to Sturgis on their Harley, he came back with a clip-on earring and a hat with a ponytail sewn in the back. He liked to put it on to embarrass Grandma.
The greatest gift Grandpa gave me was to raise a good son and show him how to be a good dad. Family was really important to Grandpa and he always put family first. My dad is the same way and I'm sure he learned it from Grandpa.
I have never liked to be called "Val," but many a time when I would visit, Grandpa would see me and say, "There's my gal, Val!" For some reason, it never bothered me when Grandpa called me Val.
This morning I wrote Grandpa's obituary. I was honored to be asked to do it and tried to infuse it with just a taste of Grandpa's personality. I've included it below. Grandpa, I love you and will miss you.
Lyle George Barker was born on April 3, 1924 and passed away on March 20, 2018. Lyle was born in Jaroso, Colorado, the son of Joy and Ruth Barker. He was the fourth in what would become a family of ten children. Lyle lived in Jaroso, working on his parents’ potato farm until he attended Campion Academy where he graduated in 1943. After graduation, he attended Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska for one semester, where he got his MRS degree as it was there that he met his beloved wife, “Evie,” Evelyn June Prusia. Lyle and Evelyn were married on July 2, 1946 in Tekamah, Nebraska. After their marriage, Lyle farmed and Evelyn taught school. In 1947, they moved to a farm near Milford, Iowa, where their three sons—Guy, Bruce, and Gary—were born. In 1954, they moved to a farm near Liberal, Missouri, where they settled down for good. It was after they moved to Liberal that their daughter, Sherry, joined the family.
Lyle earned a living as a farmer, but it’s his non-farming activities that his family remembers the most. Lyle was a devoted Christian and there was not a question about the Bible that could stump him. He could be found in church every Sabbath, in fact, just about the only time he wasn’t wearing his Key overalls was when he was at church! He loved to laugh and was always up for a good joke or prank. Evelyn was often the target of his pranks, but she never seemed to mind. Lyle was the world’s best grandpa and he loved his six granddaughters and two grandsons and never failed to show it. He took them on trips in his motorhome and to Silver Dollar City, dressed up as Santa to deliver presents from his motorcycle, and brought them with him on ice cream runs to Baskin Robbins on the motorcycle. Lyle loved wheels of any sort—motorcycles, cars, pickups, you name it, if it had wheels, he loved it. After retirement, Lyle and Evelyn spent winters in warmer climates, beginning in Florida and later in California. During the winters, they lived in their motorhome and learned new card and domino games that they eagerly shared with the grandkids when they returned to Liberal each spring. When at home, Lyle enjoyed spending time in his basement “bachelor pad” where he watched his favorite shows like In the Heat of the Night, The Andy Griffith Show, and Gunsmoke and drank Mountain Dew. Lyle had a big personality and these memories of him are just the tip of the iceberg of all the things his family remembers about him.
Lyle is survived by his wife, Evelyn; sons Guy Barker, Bruce (Leann) Barker, and Gary (Gwen) Barker; daughter Sherry (Mark) Christian, six granddaughters Julie Barker, Kristal Barker, Valerie Barker, Lindsey Ekrem, Kari Meadows, and Tracy Rudolph; two grandsons Brent Barker and Josh Christian; three great-granddaughters and two great-grandsons; brother Duane Barker; and sister Dora “Dodo” Lutz. He was preceded in death by his parents, Joy and Ruth Barker; brothers Merle, Max, David, Ted; sisters Charlotte, Helen “Honey,” and Peggy; and daughter-in-law Marilyn. Lyle was dearly loved and will be deeply missed.