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Jim Barker

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Jim Barker, state business and political leader and the only person ever elected four times as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, died Monday, April 25, 2005, in Mercy Health Center in Oklahoma City after a sudden illness. He was 69. A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, located on the northeast corner of I-35 Frontage Road and 15th Street, with Pastor Dennis Newkirk officiating. Eulogists will include Governor Brad Henry, State House Speaker Todd Hiett, State Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan and Southeastern Oklahoma University President and former House Speaker Glen D. Johnson. Jimmie Lee Barker was born June 20, 1935, in Muskogee to Pearl and Fred Barker. His mother was remarried to Roger C. Hill when Jim was 15. He attended Muskogee public schools through his sophomore year. He graduated from high school and junior college at Oklahoma Military Academy in Claremore and received his B.S. degree in business administration with minors in psychology and accounting from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. Jim was an honor student at OMA, graduating as the second highest-ranking cadet in the battalion of cadets; he also was a member of the drill team and lettered in basketball and football. He was the second inductee into the Oklahoma Military Academy Hall of Fame, cited for his state and national leadership as House Speaker and his exceptional academic and extracurricular record while a cadet. Northeastern State University named him a Distinguished Alumnus. After graduation from NSU, he served as company commander in the 69th Armored Tank Battalion of the 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One) with the rank of first lieutenant and was awarded several military awards and honors. He returned to Muskogee and was one of three incorporators of Muskogee Restaurant Supply, Inc., a regional company of which he was president and C.E.O. for 28 years. Jim was first elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1968 and elected Speaker in 1983. He authored many bills that became national role models, among them five pieces of legislation titled the Victim Bill of Rights. As Speaker he was one of the early authors of the state's Rainy Day Fund legislation, which established a set-aside for state emergencies. He was a leader in the National Association of legislative leaders. When he left the House, he became owner of Jim Barker Consulting Company, a legislative consulting firm representing more than 25 companies, many of which are among the largest corporations in the country. Throughout his career he received hundreds of awards and honors, among them the OMA Cadet Officers' Saber Society, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Appreciation Award, the National Organization for Victim Assistance Award, the Public Health Association President's Award, the Higher Education Alumni Council Outstanding Service Award, the Oklahoma Association of Public Employees Legislative Service Award, the Walter Neustadt Award from the University of Oklahoma Student Association, Young Democrats Appreciation Award, and the Bright and Shining Star Award from Governor Brad Henry, sponsored by the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, recognizing his 25 years work in that area. He was honored to be selected as Adjutant General for the June 2005 OMA Reunion and was looking forward to this occasion with much enthusiasm. He was a member of the Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond and the Gary Payne Flock Group. For all his business and political success, his first love remained his family, and he said many times that his happiest times were at his home at Oak Tree Country Club in Edmond with all his family and loving dog, Miss Par Barker. He involved them in every facet of his life. His beloved wife, Kay Frances Barker, whom he married in 1976, was his most ardent campaigner and responsible for his campaign media ads. He was extremely close to his children of a former marriage, his daughter, Janet Lee Barker Lambert, and her husband, Scott Lambert, and his granddaughter, Lori Lambert, of Muskogee; and his son Brad Alan Barker, of Edmond. He is also survived by his stepfather, Roger C. Hill, of Muskogee; a sister-in-law, Kathleen Tucker, of San Diego, CA; and a cousin, Mary Martin, of Oklahoma City. Viewing will be at Hahn-Cook-Street & Draper Funeral Home, 6006 NW Grand Blvd., Oklahoma City. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Oklahoma Military Academy Museum, c/o Rogers State University Foundation, 1701 W. Will Rogers Blvd., Claremore OK 74017. KidsTalk Foundation, 9555 Whellock Way, San Diego, CA 92129.
Published in The Oklahoman from Apr. 27 to Apr. 28, 2005
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