William H. Barker Jr., engineer

June 05, 1995|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

William H. Barker Jr., who worked on major bridge, tunnel and yard design projects in a 39-year civil engineering career with the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, died Thursday of a stroke at his home in Hamilton. He was 76.

Mr. Barker, who retired from the Chessie System in 1980, spent the last seven years of his career working on realignment of the company's tracks in the Washington area because of construction of the Metro subway line.

"One of his biggest challenges was the construction of the Mount Pleasant bridge over the Kanawha River," said T. Douglas Flemming of Cockeysville, a retired chief clerk in the engineering department. "He worked on such projects as the Monongahela River bridge at Pittsburgh, a bridge near McKeesport, Pa., the Curtis Bay coal pier and the Cumberland rail yards."

He also worked on eliminating tunnels near Parkersburg, W.Va., which allowed the railroad to use larger and higher rail cars for the transportation of goods and line extensions in West Virginia and Ohio.

"He was strong as an ox and loved being outdoors, and it was quite common to see him driving stakes or even clearing brush," Mr. Flemming said.

"When he gave you a handshake, you had to spread your fingers apart. He was a strong guy," said John Rach, a retired B&O civil engineer and friend for more than 30 years.

"He enjoyed his work and was most competent. The B&O was really a big part of his family," said Walter Webster of Timonium, nTC who worked with Mr. Barker for more than 30 years.

His wife of 54 years, the former Doris Osborne, said, "The railroad was his life."

Born and raised on Chesley Avenue in Hamilton, Mr. Barker was a 1937 graduate of Polytechnic Institute and continued engineering studies at the Johns Hopkins University.

He enlisted in 1942 in the Army Air Corps and served with the 8th Air Force at King's Cliff, England, where he was in charge of the engineers and a fire unit. He earned the Soldier's Medal and was discharged with the rank of captain in 1946. He served in the Army Reserve until 1963, when he was discharged with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He enjoyed photography, reading science fiction and studying history. He also collected books on the B&O and was a member of the RABO Club, an organization of retired B&O executives.

He was formerly a member of Messiah Episcopal Church and, since 1962, was a member of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, where he was head usher and where services were to be held at 10:30 a.m. today.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, William H. Barker III of Annapolis; three daughters, Ellen Lee Adajian of Hamilton, Linda L. Barker and Elizabeth H. Southall, both of Boring; and two brothers, C. Howard Barker of Riderwood and Warren E. Barker of Springfield, Pa.

Memorial donations may be made to Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 811 Cathedral St., Baltimore 21201.

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