(Pictured above L-R: Walter Barker and brother Yong Turner)
September 20, 1965 – December 19, 2020
Walt Barker, a Teamster foreman in the Washington, D.C., area who worked all over the country for 37 years, passed away on Dec. 19. There will be a viewing held today, Jan. 4, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Demaine Funeral Home, 520 S Washington Street, Alexandria, Va., 22314. Burial will be from 1:30-2 p.m. at Mount Comfort Cemetery, 6600 S Kings Hwy, Alexandria, Va., 22306. Unfortunately, due to state mandates, burial services at Mount Comfort Cemetery are limited to family members only at this time and in lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to cover funeral expenses (see the link below). The funeral will be live-streamed from noon-1 p.m. To join the livestream, click on the Join Livestream link at www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/alexandria-va/walter-barker-9955353
Rick Chmielewski, an instructor at United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, wrote, “Walt traveled around a lot. Yes, he was a foreman who called D.C. his home, but he was a great foreman across the country, not just in DC. There wasn’t a city I’ve traveled to that someone didn’t speak good words about him.”
The tributes to him on Facebook and at his online guest book number in the hundreds—here, are just a few:
Hank Hewett wrote, “He was the nicest person in the tradeshow business. Walt would go out of his way to help everyone. If there was a tradeshow Hall of Fame Walt would be in it. He is the G.O.A.T of tradeshows. It was an honor to know him.” Jimmy Valle wrote, “Walt was a great friend and person. It was a great pleasure knowing him. He was always there if you needed him. Walt was an affable man with a great sense of humor. A fellow Teamster Brother who was genuine. You will be missed brother!!”
According to Jamie Gunn, “Walt was a great man! This is sad news to everyone that knew Walt and how big of heart he had. I will say he taught me so much working in events, and I will always miss his laugh and those looks he would give you as he sped by you on his buggy. He was a true mentor and friend. This is so saddening and my heart goes out to the entire family. Rest easy Walt! We definitely lost you way too soon, but you will always be in our memories. Every city I visit now, that we worked together in, will always bring one of the many funny stories back to my head and put a smile on my face. From Philly to Columbus, from D.C. to Vegas. I will always remember you man! You will forever be missed!”
Maryland-based Phillip Sparks wrote, “Best freight foreman anywhere in this country. Gone WAY too soon” adding, “I am so sorry about this. Walt was one of my FAVORITE men in this world. He went everywhere with me when I had a job in need of a freight manager or a good dock person. Anytime I called to ask him if his schedule would allow him to travel with me he ALWAYS said YES. No matter his current schedule. I know he would often clear his schedule or decline other gigs to go work with me. I can’t tell you how much this guy meant to me. And the things he taught me were things I’ll never forget. One of a kind man with a heart made of pure gold. Not to mention his random bi-weekly (or at least monthly) text or call just to ask me how I was and how my family was. Or to say happy birthday, or happy holiday (no matter the holiday) I could ALWAYS expect these from him. I sure will miss his reaching out so often just because he genuinely cared. Not many still do things like that. RIP Walt.
Heritage Tradeshow Services’ Kevin Flotho wrote, “One of the best men I have ever known and worked with.” Dave Bjork added, “This is so sad. Walt was the man. He would bend over backwards to help anyone on the show floor.” Baltimore-based David A. Tarleton wrote “Show floor, Teamsters, Carpenters and a whole lot of friends and coworkers will surely miss him.”
Michael Fuse, director of freight operations, Freeman, said, “I’m truly saddened. Walter and I have worked together throughout the years since the ’80s. My prayers go out to him and his family. Co-worker Jeannie Curran wrote, “First Steve Kelly then Walter. Man it’s a very sad day indeed” and Terri Ann Gibson- Jones concurred, “This year has been bad. Loved both my tradeshow brothers. These two hurt.”
Rob Tipton wrote of his mentor, “I woke a few days ago to find out that one of the people that I hold in the highest regard in this world passed away the night before. I am sharing with all of you because not only was my friend Walter Barker an amazing soul, but he was quite a character! Walt traveled all over this country in this business which is a testament to how much of a hard worker he was not to mention how much of an impression he made on most people he met! I would have never made it in the tradeshow/events business, if it weren’t for Walter Barker. At a time when the guy who brought me into this business tried to blackball me out of it… Walt stepped up and said, ‘I think it’s real messed up what that dude is doing to you and I’m gonna help you out.’ That was a really rough time in my life and Walt stepped up and said, ‘we’re gonna make it through this’… Like it was happening to him too… He then went on to help me get work when nobody else would… He taught me everything about how to get work, how to do the job, how to deal with drivers, managers, everything! He used to always tell me… ‘This isn’t a job… it’s a hustle.’ He taught me that my ability to succeed in this business is going to depend on me going to and getting that work, working hard and appreciating whatever work you do get from the people who give you work. Walt taught me how to treat getting work in this business like running your own company. He was such a good person and being around him often, you couldn’t help but become a better person! The world will not be the same without him but his effect on it will live on through the lives of those whose lives that he touched. He will be missed by all. Rest in heaven my brother! I will continue to honor your name and all you taught me both in work and in life for the rest of my days…”
Tony Hester wrote, “If you would have told me that in March it would be the last time I would see some of my best friends I would have laughed but instead today I’m crying for the loss of a good friend and a great person.”
Barker is survived by his wife (pictured left with Walt) of more than 20 years, four daughters (pictured right is Walt with daughter Brittany) and seven grandchildren.
To share a memory or leave condolences or contribute to his funeral expenses, visit everloved.com/life-of/walter-barker-jr/memories/
An excerpt of this story originally appeared in the Jan./Feb. 2021 issue of Exhibit City News, p. 45. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_jan-feb_2021