Donald Gordon Barger, Sr. Naples, FL
Our father, Donald Barger Sr., known affectionately as 'The Colonel,' died peacefully at the age of 89 surrounded by family on April 16, 2013 in Naples, FL.
He is survived by his devoted wife of 70 years, Mary Elizabeth; their four children, Donald Jr. (Linda), Gayle (Friedrich) Martin, Gregory (Sally) and David (Kara); 15 grandchildren; ten great grandchildren; a sister, Rosie Smith; and a brother, Robert (Jean) Barger.
Our Dad was preceded in death by his parents, Abner and Della Barger; and his brother, Kenneth Barger.
His faith was an important part of his life. Daily Bible readings and prayer with our Mom were an integral part of their routine. He and Mom attended the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Annapolis, MD.
While this obituary is to honor our Dad, it is appropriate to emphasize how important our Mom was to his well being. She is the rock on which the family was built and our Dad's primary care giver over the last 40 years when his condition was either good or debilitating. Ultimately, our Mom kept The Colonel alive these many years by being the driver of his good quality of life.
Dad had a full military career spanning 28 years. He joined the US Army Air Corps as a cadet after Pearl Harbor, becoming a B 29 bombardier and bombardier instructor and retiring as a 'full bird' Colonel in the Military Police branch of the US Army in 1970. While there were many highlights to his military career, three things stand out that he thoroughly enjoyed: 1) he had a passion for learning and was always going to school earning his undergraduate degree, a masters degree, and a Jurist Doctor degree before passing the Maryland bar; 2) serving as a company commander and leading men (as he said, the best job in the Army!) and; 3) getting airborne jump qualified at the unusual age of 40.
Upon retiring from the Army, Dad entered the field of education as a math teacher. He retired after more than 20 years from the Anne Arundel County, Maryland high school system as an assistant principal. As much as he loved the US Army, his experiences as a teacher and as an assistant principal were probably his most fulfilling. He greatly enjoyed helping young people and relished when former students would recognize him, say 'Hello Colonel,' and then spend time visiting with him.
Though he was confronted with serious health issues and was a cancer survivor for almost 40 years, our Dad enjoyed a longer and higher quality of life through the efforts of loving caregivers, most notably our sister Gayle and her husband Fried. Though there are many individuals who assisted Dad over the years (too many to recognize), we would like to express our deep gratitude to several professionals who went above and beyond what was expected. Specifically, Dr. Thomas Jarrett of George Washington University Hospital, a superb urology surgeon and a fine person with a great bedside manner who worked miracles not once but multiple times; Dr. Edward Dudek of Annapolis, MD, a long time nephrology care provider and counselor to our Dad and family; Dr. Anthony Caputo, our parents primary care physician who they also considered a good friend; Dr. Steven Luke of Naples, FL who along with his staff gave our father terrific sensitive urological care; and RN Sherry Taylor, a dialysis expert who cared so much for her patients that she visited our Dad on her day off during his hospice stay.
Visitation will be held Saturday, April 27 from 2:00 to 4:00 at Fairfax Memorial Funeral Home, 9902 Braddock Road, Fairfax, VA 22032.
'The Colonel' will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, our family requests donations be made to a hospice organization of your choice. If there is not a preference, Avow Hospice, 1095 Whippoorwill Lane, Naples, FL 34105 did a sensitive job supporting our family and taking care of our Dad as he went through the dying process.