Robert Freer Barker

Published 3:09 pm Friday, February 1, 2019

Robert Freer Barker passed away on January 27, 2019 at 103.

Robert was born in Providence, RI to George and Elizabeth Barker.  One of his earliest memories was of running into the street and banging on a pan to celebrate the end of World War I. 

Robert’s father George, was a musician and an architect.  His mother, Elizabeth, immigrated from England. George’s work as an architect took the family to the Asheville area in 1924 as he designed and supervised construction of the Beacon Manufacturing Mill in Swannanoa where  Barker Street was named after him. Robert had many wonderful memories of time spent in this area, running through the mountains with his friend, Fatty Patton. He often told of his first car, a Model T that he and Fatty pooled their money to buy in about 1930.   Many adventures and much hilarity ensued.

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Robert was a sports enthusiast and, although he also played football and basketball, his greatest passion was baseball, playing for the Swannanoa.

Robert studied drafting and engineering at Brown University where he graduated in 1939 with a BS in Engineering. He worked many years as a plant engineer at Curtis Wright, Corporation in Fairfield, NJ. At the start of World War II his employer insisted that he not enlist as his work was vital to the war effort.

Robert met Doris Meyer on vacation in Packanack Lake, New Jersey and, although his High School classmates predicted that he would never marry, she persuaded him otherwise.  They were married in 1942 and had many happy years and 5 children together in western New Jersey. Robert was an avid gardener who instilled a passion for the land in all his children.  He tended beautiful and productive vegetable gardens wherever he lived, from Maine to Florida.

In 1985 Doris suffered a debilitating head injury and Robert singlehandedly cared for all her needs.  They moved to Ocala FL where Doris later died.

Robert moved to Tryon in 2007 to live on his son Bill’s farm. One of Robert’s lifelong dreams was to be a farmer, something his mother forbade.  For the next 10 years, Robert was finally a farmer! Passers by along Hwy 9 could see the big beautiful gardens that he planted and tended until he was over 100 years old.

In 2017, Robert moved to Florida with his daughter, Virginia, who cared for him until he passed.

Robert was preceded in death by his wife, Doris, and his oldest son, Bob. He is survived by his sons, Richard (Grace) Barker of Freehold NJ, Bill (Lee) Barker of Tryon NC, Jim (Sue) Barker of Jefferson ME and his daughter, Virginia Silva, of Ocala FL.  He is also survived by 14 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren.

The family burial site is in Providence, RI.