Memorial: Daniel Stephen Barker

BarkerDaniel Stephen Barker, the F.M. Bullard Professor of Geology Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin, died May 21, 2015, in Austin. He was born in Waltham, Massachusetts, on February 27, 1934, the only child of Kenneth Watson Barker and Sadie Brown Barker. Raised in rural Maine, he was probably the last UT faculty member to be educated in a one-room schoolhouse. After graduating in 1952 as valedictorian from Cony High School in Augusta, Maine, he attended Yale University on full scholarships, graduating magna cum laude in 1956. He then earned his MS in Geology in 1958 at the California Institute of Technology, and in 1961, his Ph.D from Princeton University.He came to Austin in 1963 and stuck. In 1964 he and Barbara Catherine Mackin wed and produced Molly in 1965 and Amy in 1967. These they considered their finest achievements. He and Barbara remained the best of friends long after their marriage ended in 1984, until her death in 2002. In 1994 Dan and Rosemary Brant married, in a joyous union that lasted until her death in 2006. He is survived by his daughters and sons-in-law Molly and Billy Gray of Austin, and Amy and Mark Rielly of Needham, Massachusetts; a grandson, Mackin Murphy Rielly; a granddaughter, Sadie Fallon Daphne Rielly; and a step-granddaughter, Paloma Gray. Four first cousins, Jane E. Barker, Ph.D of Bar Harbor, Maine, Judith B. Carducci of Hudson, Ohio, Donald C. Freeman, Jr. of Brewster, Massachusetts, and Hank Freeman of Provo, Utah, also survive him, as does his cat, Big Joe.Dan enjoyed 36 years of teaching and research at the University. He supervised seven doctoral students and eleven masters students. He demanded that each come up with his or her own original research topic and write a proposal that competed with him for his endowed research funds. In 1994 he was awarded the Jubilee Medal of the Geological Society of South Africa, and the Knebel Distinguished teaching Award in the Department of Geological Sciences in 1976, 1980, and 1987. In 1991 and 1999, the College of Natural Sciences conferred on him the Teaching Excellence Award. He was most gratified when students called him Obi-Wan. He was a Senior Fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America and the Geological Society of America, and received several research grants from the National Science Foundation. Dan was a Fulbright Senior Research Fellow in Denmark in 1974. He published a textbook, several guidebooks, five encyclopedia articles, and more than 50 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters.Geological fieldwork took him to many places, from Greenland to the Cape Verdes, Scotland to Italy, New Zealand to Namibia, Easter Island to Patagonia, and Japan to Turkey. During these travels, he met many strangers, some of whom were not very nice.

Dan retired in 1999, but continued his research. Travel, photography, pipe smoking, classical music, reading, New York Times Sunday crossword puzzles, food, and family were among his loves. He enjoyed puns, even good ones, and tried to hide Down-East humor that “was so dry it made your nose bleed,” according to one friend. He thought he had a good life.

He inherited great empathy for animals from his grandfather, Maine farmer Zebediah Barker, of whom it was said, “His animals were always glad to see him.”

Memorial contributions will be welcomed at any animal shelter.

A Memorial Service will be held at a later date this summer.

Memorials and guestbook online at Published in Austin American-Statesman from May 23 to May 26, 2015.