Barker celebrates 90th birthday with family, friends

Stephanie Batenschoen joins her grandfather, Elwood
Stephanie Batenschoen joins her grandfather, Elwood 'Woody' Barker, in watching a slideshow of his younger years during his 90th birthday party on Feb. 23.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

LAKEWOOD — Elwood "Woody" Barker's family and friends helped him celebrate his 90 years, at his home in Lakewood on Sunday, Feb. 23, with recollections that all served to confirm his lifelong work ethic.

"My dad served with him on the Lakewood School Board years ago," Wayne Vroman said of Barker, whose term on the school board lasted from 1973-79. "He was always the hardest-working man around. He didn't stop from early morning to dark."

Jeanne and Alan Lish have likewise known Barker since the mid-1970s, and recalled Elwood roping his son Steve into carpentry projects they did for the Lishes.

"Steve and I also taught together at Arlington High School," Alan Lish said. "Even without that connection, I would have known how civic-minded Elwood was."

"Elwood is one of the most sincere, friendly and positive people," Jeanne Lish said. "He always has a wave and a smile for everyone, and he's very proud of his family. He may be 90, but his mind is still sharp."

From his 50s through his 80s, granddaughter Stephanie Batenschoen observed how Barker remained active in building and fixing things.

"I've never met a man who worked as hard, and he was never done with his work," Batenschoen said. "He always said the last thing he would ever do is pull the casket lid on top of himself."

Grandson Bryce Barker, a Lakewood High School alum who now coaches LHS boys soccer, reported that Elwood attended not only all of his grandchildren's games, but also all of the games that Bryce has coached.

"He's never really taken vacations," Bryce Baker said. "He's always had some project or something to do, and that structure has served as an example for the rest of our family to live by."

The family cheered as they watched a slideshow of photos of Elwood Barker and his wife Marilyn in their youth.

"We'll have been married 65 years in June, and he hasn't changed a bit," Marilyn Barker said. "He's still the nicest, most gentle man."

"All I ever wanted was a nice place to live, a good-looking wife and plenty of children to raise, and boy, I got it all," Elwood Barker said.

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