Jan. 3, 1945 – Dec. 26, 2020
On Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020, Van Barker, 75, of Natchitoches passed away with his family by his side after a long battle with cancer. Van was born Jan. 3, 1945, in Natchitoches. He was the oldest of five children born to Thomas “Tom” and Willa Vee Barker.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his grandparents, Willie Hugh and Avey Nugent and William Pinkney and Daisy Barker.
Van attended Northwestern Lab School, Natchitoches High School and Northwestern State College. It was at Northwestern that he met the love of his life, Linda, and they were married Jan. 30, 1965. As a music major, he was able to continue his love of the cello that began in the Natchitoches High Orchestra. He later performed with the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra, as well as symphonies in Shreveport, Atlanta, Rome, and Gainesville, Ga.
While in college, Van worked in retail sales at the local Western Auto store. After a family move in 1974, Van became a buyer and later manager for the Gibson Company in Gainesville and Carrollton, Ga. In 1980, he returned to his beloved Cane River and began a career as an insurance agent representing several companies. He retired from the New York Life Insurance Company.
Van loved the outdoors and especially the water. Duck hunting on “The Prairie”, fishing on Black Lake and week-long boating trips on Red River with friends and their sons made cherished memories for all. Cooking for friends and family, especially on holidays, gave Van much joy. Christmas Festival day was a time of “Open House” when he would invite family, friends and even a few strangers to visit, eat and rest.
After retirement, Van shared his interest in gun collecting and firearms with others by trading, buying and selling firearms at various gun shows throughout Louisiana. Many friendships were formed with other vendors and gun enthusiasts.
Van is survived by his wife of 55 years, Linda; children, Andy and wife Shelia of Quitman and Jennifer Morin and husband Shawn of Shreveport; grandchildren include Corey Rowe and wife Amy of Clay, Courtney Roncal and husband Bryan of Quitman, Andrew Walker and wife Rachel of Benton, Allyson Walker and Cooper Austin of Shreveport; and his eight great-grandchildren.
Van dearly loved his family and rejoiced in each one’s accomplishments, as well as supporting their dreams. There were many vacation trips involving outdoor adventures which made memories for his children and grandchildren.
Also surviving Van are his sisters, Zoe Almond and husband Tony of Sugarland, Texas, Jan Nolley and husband Dennis of Athens, Texas, Meg Michael and husband Malcolm of Natchitoches; and his brother, Len Barker and wife Ginger of Greenwood; and his aunts, June Stringer and Beth Schultz; and several nephews, nieces and cousins.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to St. Jude’s research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN, or to Make-A-Wish Foundation.
There will be a memorial service to honor Van’s life at a later date.