Robert Barker

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Robert L. Barker, former state Senator representing Wake, Harnett and Lee Counties, died Tuesday, June 22, 2010 in Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville. A real estate appraiser, Barker owned Bob Barker & Associates, Inc. with offices in Edenton and Nags Head prior to retirement in 2006. The son of the late Millard R. Barker Sr. and Mabel Gray Barker, Bob was born in Harnett County and grew up in Raleigh, attending Millbrook High School and North Carolina State University. Barker served as a special communications officer in the US Army, stationed at NORAD in Colorado Springs, and also served in Korea and the Far East. He and his wife, the former Kaye Hollowell, resided in Edenton. In the North Carolina General Assembly, Barker served as Chair of the Senate Committee on Insurance and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Human Resources. He chaired the North Carolina Dairy Industry Study Commission and co-chaired the Senate Joint Study on Governing Boards for Public Education. He is no doubt best remembered by colleagues as Senate co-chair of the House-Senate Joint Committee on Medical Malpractice during the malpractice issues of the 1970’s. Senator Barker was appointed by Governor James B. Hunt to serve on the state’s Capitol Building Authority that planned the state government complex in downtown Raleigh and also served on North Carolina’s Bicentennial Commission and the Marine Fisheries Commission. Bob was always grateful for the role he was able to play in the effort to establish the ECU School of Medicine. Colleagues delight in stories about Senator Barker breaking ranks with Piedmont legislators to support the work of Dr. Leo Jenkins, U.S. Senator Robert Morgan and Lieutenant Governor Hunt to get the Medical School at ECU and the expansion of Pitt Memorial, that would follow, for all of eastern North Carolina. In statements issued this week, former U.S. Senator Robert Morgan and former Governor Jim Hunt called Barker “a great public servant.” Of all his civic involvement in Raleigh over the years, none brought greater pleasure than his service on the Board of Directors of the Boys Club of Raleigh for many years. He was instrumental in organizing the Club in an abandoned church property and saw it grow to occupy a large facility with able staff to serve the unmet needs of young men. In addition to his wife of thirty-two years, Barker is survived by his sons, L. Ashley Barker and wife Christine of Greenville and Robert H. Barker of Nags Head, and daughters Michelle B. Lewis and husband Terry and Melissa B. Hood and husband Jeff of Raleigh, and six grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother Will Barker of Raleigh and sisters Edith Watkins of Myrtle Beach, S.C. and Carol Hannah of Pinehurst. In addition to his parents, Barker was predeceased by brothers M. Ray Barker, Jr. and William E. Barker, and sisters Marie B. Yow, Doris B. Southall and Judith B. Coley. Barker was a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where he formerly served on the vestry as Junior Warden. A memorial service was held Friday, June 25 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Edenton. The family will receive friends at the residence at 103 West Church Street. Miller Funeral Home & Crematory, 735 Virginia Road, Edenton, is assisting the family with arrangements. In lieu of flowers, the family requests consideration of memorial contributions to the N.C. State Engineering Foundation for Scholarships, P.O. Box 7901, NCSU, Raleigh, N.C. 27695, or to St. Paul’s Church, 101 W. Gale Street, Edenton, N.C. 27932. The family would like to express their appreciation for Dr. Chris Perry in Edenton, and for Dr. Heather White and the oncology staff at Pitt Memorial Hospital. Online condolences may be made by visiting