Helene Barker
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Helene Barker

Businesswoman Helene Barker, who taught thousands of children in the Coachella Valley how to swim, died June 25 at Eisenhower Medical Center.

Barker, 65, was the owner of Helene's Learn to Swim, a private swim school in Palm Desert. From there, at people's homes and at the Aquatic Center, Barker taught swimming from infants up to adults. Some of her students went on to swim competitively. Many of her clients came from all over the country, attracted to her unique teaching approach, which not only taught them swimming and water safety but also helped them develop confidence.

No services are planned at this time because of Covid 19.

Born in California, Barker got her start as a lifeguard and swim instructor at 16 living at Atsugi Naval Base in Japan where her father was stationed. After high school, she went to Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation. There she was certified through the Red Cross as a Water Safety Instructor.

She moved to Sandwich Ill. where she worked as Waterfront Director at Lake Holiday. From there she worked at the local YMCA in Aurora, Illinois for 8 years working as a swim instructor, Assistant Aquatic Director, and finally as Aquatic Director. She held all 10 of the YMCA aquatic credentials as well as Red Cross CPR, First Aid, Lifesaving and Water Safety Instructor certifications. She also ran a swim program at Boulder Terrace Farm in Sandwich, Illinois, at her parent's backyard pool.

Moving to the desert in 1986 she took a break from swimming and entered the hospitality industry for several years, serving in the home of the late Bob Hope among others. Then she worked as a production coordinator, meeting planner, trade show coordinator and executive assistant for a local marketing firm in Palm Desert. In 1999 she started the business "Learn To Swim At Your Pool", teaching swimming in the privacy and convenience of home pools. Her business grew tremendously and in 2008, she started "Helene's Learn To Swim", at her own pool in Palm Desert.

The business flourished for more than a decade but Covid 19 had made operating her business a struggle in her 34th year of teaching children to swim.

She was preceded in death by her parents Capt. (Rtd) Franklin Barker and Elnor (Parker) Barker. She is survived by an uncle and cousins.

Rose Mortuary in Palm Desert has handled arrangements.

If you want to remember Helene's commitment to teaching swimming you can contribute to the USA Swimming Foundation, C/O Stephen Little, 42161 Beacon Hill, Palm Desert, CA. 92211-5108. Steve Little, founder of Claro Pool Services will match the first $1,000 donated.




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Published in The Desert Sun from Jun. 29 to Jul. 1, 2020.
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MEMORIES & CONDOLENCES
Not sure what to say?
7 entries
July 6, 2020
Rest in peace, Helene. You are missed by all you touched.
L. Wade
Friend
July 4, 2020
Helene and I have been friends for 35 years. She wasnt just a friend, roommate, she was a older sister to me. I have so many memories of all the fun times. The many road trips to Laughlin and Vegas, late nights in the Jacuzzi just talking about life. Helene was a excellent Bar-be-quer, I absolutely loved her grilling and being invited for dinner was absolutely a treat!! I am going to cherish our friendship forever, we had a special bond that not everyone gets to experience in there lifetime. It didnt matter how long it was between visits, we always new that we were there for each other. Helenes love of the water will define her memory, to all those she taught to swim. Her heart was Big and her smile was Bright. Rest In Peace my Dear Friend. I will love and miss u forever!! My condolences to your family.
Laurie Taylor
Friend
July 1, 2020
I will remember Helene as a miracle worker. All my life I had tried to learn how to swim but inherited my mothers deep fear of the water. Helene broke through those fears and taught me at age 60! how to swim.
My heart is sad to hear of her passing and I thank God I found her!
Sue Rowland
Friend
June 30, 2020
We will miss her deeply. She taught my girls to swim and we learned a lot about each other during those swim lesson hours. She even asked me to have my girls be featured in her swim class ad, I was honored.
Everytime my girls swim her name comes up and it probably will for the rest of our lives. Never got to truly say thank you for everything.
Kimia
Friend
June 29, 2020
In loving memory of a wonderful person. Helene was my lifesaving instructor and friend. She was kind hearted and fun loving. Memory Eternal my friend.
Angie Mabry
Friend
June 29, 2020
She was a wonderful person, with a big heart and robust laugh. Her gift of teaching children swimming will live on. Rest easy cousin Helene.
Donn Demarzio
Family
June 29, 2020
Godspeed Helene
Christopher Choyke
Family
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