Cover photo for Lt. Col. John Barker's Obituary
Lt. Col. John Barker Profile Photo
1942 Lt. Col. John 2023

Lt. Col. John Barker

July 19, 1942 — December 29, 2023

Pisgah Forest, NC


Lt. Col. John K. Barker of Pisgah Forest, NC passed away peacefully at home in the company of family on Friday morning, 29 December. Born in Fall River, MA, John grew up partly in Adamsville, RI and Westport, MA before the family moved to Fort Lauderdale. John was a graduate of Fort Lauderdale High School, class of 1960, where he played basketball and was Senior Class President.  He attended Duke University and was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, earning his undergraduate degree in Political Science in 1964. A year after graduating from Duke, John was accepted in the U.S. Air Force’s Officer Training  School (OTS) as a pilot candidate and would earn his wings a year later. John’s life changed again shortly thereafter when he met the beautiful Helen Gonzales of Burbank, CA. Their love and marriage would last for over five decades and, with two children in tow, across many countries and states while John proudly served his country.


Lt. Col. Barker forged a distinguished career in the Air Force over 20 years first through two tours in Southeast Asia as a combat-decorated fighter pilot in the F-4 Phantom and later as an F-16 Fighting Falcon flight instructor and squadron commander. Additionally, John managed to receive a Master’s degree from Golden Gate University while still on active duty as a pilot. While he loved the challenge and exhilaration in flying, John knew that constantly being reassigned by the military was difficult on a family with school-aged children, and he made the difficult decision to hang up his wings.


After retiring from the Air Force to Tallahassee, FL in 1985, John spent over a decade working in Community Affairs for the State of Florida. John and Helen saw both their children finish high school and college from Tallahassee and, eventually, leave the nest. John and Helen spent their free time traveling and gardening, and John spent a few years doing civic work with the Tallahassee Kiwanis Club.


In 2000, John and Helen made their final move to Western North Carolina where they fully enjoyed many of the region’s abundant outdoor activities and scenery so loved by their family.  John took an active interest in politics and elections while in NC. He was a long-time member of the Transylvania County GOP, was a years-long active volunteer in his voting precinct and was later greatly honored to be appointed as a member of the Transylvania County Board of Elections where he served for four years. John and Helen were long time members of St. Timothy United Methodist Church in Brevard, and a memorial service will be scheduled shortly at the church.


John will be greatly missed by his adoring family and the many friends he made during each of his life’s duty assignments. He is survived by Helen, his wife of over 55 years; son, John of Pisgah Forest, NC; daughter, Charlotte and husband Rivers of Greenville, SC; brother, Jeffrey and wife Louise of Chapel Hill, NC; and three grandsons, Benton, Jackson and Rivers of Greenville, SC.


To leave a memory or condolence for the family of Lt. Col. John Barker, please go to the on-line registry at “Tributes” at

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, January 13, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

St. Timothy United Methodist Church


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