Thomas Henry Barker
Thomas H. Barker, formerly of Ottumwa, passed away on December 21st, 2018 in Cathedral City, CA, after a sudden illness. Thomas, or Tom, was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa in 1932 to Herman and Lorene Barker. Toms father was pharmacist working in Mondamin, Iowa, and later in Algona, Iowa. The family relocated from Iowa to Boulder, Colorado, in 1945, where Tom graduated from Boulder High School in 1950, and played trombone in the high school band. Tom attended the University of Colorado where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon social fraternity and Westminster Fellowship he graduated in 1954. Sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church of Boulder, Tom attended San Anselmo (now San Francisco) Theological Seminary, graduating in 1957. Following graduation, Tom attended Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, for two years, where he met his wife, Mary Ellen Peirce, marrying her in 1959. Following his studies, he and Mary Ellen served in Presbyterian churches as musicians and associate pastor in Philadelphia, Chicago, Phoenix, Ottumwa (IA), and Palm Desert, (CA). Tom was the associate pastor and organist of the First Presbyterian Church in Ottumwa from 1969 to 1981. Tom is especially remembered for his work with an ecumenical youth fellowship called The Group during the 1970s. In 1987, Tom became the organist at Sacred Heart Catholic Church and the chaplain at the Carlotta Retirement Community, both in the Palm Desert area. In 1990, Tom and Mary Ellen divorced, however they remained close lifelong friends. In 1997, Tom retired from the Carlotta, but continued his organ position at Sacred Heart and also at St. Margarets Episcopal Church in Palm Desert. He also substituted at various churches in the Coachella Valley, and served for nine years in Hospice as a counselor. Tom was active in the American Guild of Organists throughout his life, being Dean of the Coachella Valley chapter on several occasions. Tom traveled extensively throughout the world during his life and especially enjoyed visiting European cathedrals.

Tom is survived by two brothers, Richard Barker, of Boulder, Colorado and James Barker of Ft. Worth, Texas, also by sons, Brian Barker of Ventura, California, and David Barker, of Alpharetta, Georgia, and grandchildren Van, Curran, Carolyn and Abbey Barker. Funeral services will be held at St. Margarets Episcopal Church in February 2019, date to be announced. Burial will be in Boulder, Colorado. For details, please contact Brian Barker at
Published on January 2, 2019


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