REMEMBERING BRAD BARKER
The recent passing of Brad Barker brings back a plethora of humorous memories. At first meeting, Brad usually appeared to be a rather conservative, almost stolid individual, but just below the surface, so to speak, was a mischievous personality that was often thoroughly unpredictable. Serving on the Bethel Board of Selectmen with him from 1975 to 1978 allowed me to experience his dedication to the community and the business at hand, but also to see another sometimes outrageous side to him. One of the burdens those of us on the Board at the time experienced was the presence of a member of the community at our meetings who was convinced that he was needed to make certain we made all the right decisions and remained honest. We referred to him as the “Sixth Selectman,” and it became almost a paparazzi encounter during those days as he constantly photographed members of the Board coming and going from their residences and any activities they were involved in both public and private. My reaction to the situation was to ignore his presence as much as possible, but he really annoyed Brad with his constant surveillance.
During one notable meeting of the Board of Selectmen, we went from one room to another in the Cole Block. When we returned to the room, where we had left our hats and coats, Brad, to my surprise, suddenly started stomping on a hat that had fallen to the floor. Selectman Sam Timberlake entered the room at about that time and was appalled by the sight of Brad’s actions, exclaiming with some annoyance, “What are you doing to my hat?” The look of horror on Brad’s face as he realized his error (mistaking it for that of our “Sixth”) provided his fellow Board members who witnessed this episode with considerable mirth for the rest of our days. From that time on, whenever we saw Brad our thoughts often went back to that memorable occasion in the 1970s when he assaulted Sam’s hat with such vigor and intensity!
It should also be noted that Brad, along with his wife Judy, was long a life member of the Bethel Historical Society, and together they supported the Society generously over the years.
All of us who knew Brad will greatly miss his presence and humor. There are many other vivid memories of Brad that I will treasure for the rest of my days. He was devoted to his family and became a very successful businessman. I am certain he will be long remembered by his loved ones along with those of us who had the pleasure of knowing him through these many years.