We are excited to share a few stories from our oldest and most fascinating client, Paul Barker.
Born on January 26, 1924, in Ava, Missouri, Paul’s earliest memory was the birth of his sister when he was two years old. Her name is Delta Joy Barker and is still living, as is his brother David at the young age of 82.
Paul can remember a story his father would tell him about being a boy in 1895. His dad was 15 years old and plowing the fields when he heard the news of the assassination of President William McKinley. His father also shared memories of the Spanish Flu and how the doctors had to sleep in the hearse at the funeral home to get some rest from working so hard with patients and to avoid getting the flu.
Paul lived through the Great Depression and was fortunate to have a job at the local grocery store, where he worked from 7:00 am-11:00 pm for .10 cents an hour.
WWII took everyone out of the Great Depression, and Paul served in the Pacific, where he was a gunnery officer on an aircraft carrier for 18 months. Witnessing an amazing moment in history, Paul attended the surrender ceremony aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945, where he watched the unconditional surrender of the Japanese to the Allies which officially ended the Second World War. Afterwards, he went ashore at Anchor Bay and found it very interesting that there were no feelings of animosity between the Allied forces and the Japanese.
Paul met his wife, Mae, after the war when he came to Springfield in 1950. She attended Springfield High School (now known as Central High School). The first vehicle he owned was a 1950 Chevrolet Styleline which he bought brand new for $2100!
Growing up, his dad had an insurance agency in Ava. Paul received a business degree from the University of Missouri, and left Ava at age 26 to pursue the same line of work as his father as it just seemed like a natural transition.
Paul loves genealogy and started working on his family tree when he was 28. He also collects stamps and coins. He enjoys music and played the trombone in high school; he then went on to play first chair trombone in the MU Marching Band. After college, he played in the Springfield Shriners Band, where he marched in the Christmas Parade every year. Music has been a very important part of his life.
Paul traveled to all 50 states and loved traveling by car. He feels each of our 50 states have such interesting things to see and experience. Reflecting on Springfield, he thinks it has grown naturally and finds it funny that people complain about our traffic, because compared to other city traffic we should be thankful!
When asked about his longevity, Paul says it’s mostly genetics since his mother lived to 105. He does eat right, enjoying the same thing every day; dry cereal with four fruits on it for breakfast, a banana as a snack in the afternoon and supper in the evening. His favorite thing about life today is that he has more time for books, reading two or three of them a week.
Paul’s advice for young people getting started in life?
"Like what you do and don’t be upset if your first choice doesn’t work out. Also don’t be afraid to have a change."