Borrego Sun - Since 1949

William Lee Barker


Last updated 2/26/2019 at 10:17am

William Lee Barker, a 20+ year resident of Borrego Springs, died of respiratory failure Saturday, January 26, 2019.

Bill as he was known, a third generation Californian, was the oldest of four children born to Alvin William Barker and Olive Stingley Barker on May 11, 1936 in the same hospital in Riverside, CA that his Mother was born in. He grew up in Long Beach, California. He earned his AA degree at the age of 17 from Long Beach City College under a special apprentice program with the Long Beach Naval Shipyard.

He was married to Jacklyn Glover Barker for 17 years. They had five children. Two died before age 2.

In 1954, he joined the Army National Guard serving eight years attaining the rank of Sargent First Class. He declined Officer's Training School and instead entered the electronic manufacturing field.

For the next 21 years his experience was in corporate management and design consulting that included extensive worldwide travel in the US, Canada and 21 other counties including Europe, the Middle East and the Far East.

In 1973, Bill married Abigail McAree Barker. At the time of his death, they were married 46 years and had known each other 50 years. They had a daughter who also died before age 2.

From 1977 until 2003, Bill and Abigail operated a successful General contracting corporation and a Sole Proprietorship involved in the design and construction of high-tech data processing facilities until his retirement in 2003.

Prior to moving to Borrego Springs in 1998, the Barkers lived in the rural unincorporated community of Elfin Forest in San Diego County. Bill served as an elected member of the San Dieguito Planning Commission, was co-founder of the Elfin Forest Town Council serving as Chairman three of his five terms and named Citizen of the Year in 1989.

Bill joined the Elfin Forest volunteer fire brigade in 1977 when the garage of his newly built house caught fire and he discovered the fire brigade only had one old truck that was parked under an Oak tree. He took every bit of fire training the County of San Diego offered and arranged training for the entire brigade.

He led a successful effort to place a special fire tax on the ballot to fund the fire department CSA-107 renaming it as the Elfin Forest/Harmony Grove Department. That tax passed by 89% of the local vote while similar proposals for other San Diego County volunteer departments failed.

He became the Fire Chief in 1978 and moved the department into a renovated stable with parking for two trucks then to a renovated manufacturing building with garage space for their now six trucks and a crew of 40.

He served for 17 years and 15 years as Fire Chief. He also functioned for five years as a volunteer County fire inspector, belonged to the California and San Diego Fire Chiefs Association and was Chairman of the Volunteer Fire Chiefs Association. He was nominated for County Volunteer of the year and presented a Proclamation for Outstanding Service upon his retirement from the fire department by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

In 1998 Bill and Abby moved to Borrego Springs to the desert he loved and had been enjoying since the 1970s.

He joined the American Legion Post 858, served on many committees including being 2nd Vice President.

He was a member for 20 years. It was his intent to retire in 1998 but kept being called back for one more exciting project. He finally retired in 2002. He joined the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park visitor center training program graduating in 2003.

He completed Volunteer Naturalist training in 2003. His programs were on Desert Safety. He took part in the annual sheep count, was a trail head volunteer, worked with the Junior Ranger Club and was available with his off-road machine whenever asked. He was a volunteer for 16 years, and in December 2018 reached his goal of volunteering for 2,000 hours for the Park.

In 2006, Bill and avid off roader, decided to turn his 1996 Jeep Cherokee Sport into an awesome off-road machine. He chose Tito Molina to perform the work. Bill, who had been building and modifying vehicles since his teens, thought Tito was an awesome mechanic and encouraged him to go into business on is own.

When an automotive business in Borrego Springs became available for sale in 2007, Bill encouraged Tito to purchase the business and offered mentoring and financial support. They remained partners until 2012 when Bill felt that Tito could handle the business on his own. They remained close friends until Bill's death. Tito looked upon Bill as a second father figure.

He is survived by his wife Abby, his three children Evelyn (Steve), Richard and Ruth, seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren and his best friend and faithful Medical Alert dog of eight years Pepie.

He is also survived by his twin sister and younger sister. He lost his brother in 2014.

A Celebration of Life was held at the American Legion Post 858 in Borrego Springs Feb. 16.

His ashes were scattered in the desert by friends and family in the afternoon.

Donations can be made in his name to the American Legion Post 858 building fund and the Anza- Borrego Foundation for the ABDSP Visitor Center. Both are in Borrego Springs, CA.

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