Ruth T. Barker, born in Topeka on July 18, 1935, passed away on February 21, 2023 at the Hospice House in Hutchinson. She was the third daughter of Dr. Floyd and Florence (Fink) Taggart.
Ruth grew up in Topeka, graduated from Topeka High School in 1953 and went on to attend Kansas University in 1957 earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education. In the summer of 1956 Ruth traveled to Europe and Morocco with KU as part of a USO show called the “Jayhawker Jamboree” which entertained 26,000 military and servicemen. While at KU Ruth Ruth was also a member of the Pi Beta Phi Sorority.
In 1957 Ruth married PK Worley. Together they had two children, Brenda and Tag Worley. They resided in Ottawa for seven years before returning to Topeka in 1964. Ruth taught physical education at Washburn University from 1964 to 1977. Their marriage to Worley ended in 1977 and Ruth moved to Wichita where she worked at the Southwestern Bell . In 1981 she returned to Topeka to become director of health and safety services for the American Red Cross.
In the summer of 1983, Ruth met Bob W. Barker and they married on December 28, 1983. Bob and Ruth bought Leech Products Inc. in Hutchinson in 1983, running it until 2017. Together Ruth and Bob survived the 1991 tornado that devastated their home and community of Willowbrook. Bob and Ruth enjoyed traveling together in their RV, taking boat cruises and a highlight was a safari in Africa with Topeka Zoo Director Gary Clark. Their unique travel experiences ended with a trip to the Holy Land.
Ruth was an active member of Trinity United Methodist Church, sang in the Chancel Choir and served on the Board of Trustees. She was a student of Pi Beta Phi, a 60-year member of PEO Chapter EP in Topeka and PEO Chapter CM in Hutchinson. Ruth has served on the boards of Hutchinson Town Club, Symphony and Zoo. In addition, she has volunteered for the American Red Cross, Willowbrook Council, Kansas Children’s Service League, Kansas Native Sons and Daughters and the PEO Home Board, Sunflower Grants. In her spare time she enjoyed golf, tennis and later in her life she became a watercolor artist.
Ruth is survived by her husband of nearly 40 years, Bob W. Barker of Hutchinson; sons, Paul “Tag” Worley (Alann) of Parker, CO and Brice W. Barker (Carol) of Hutchinson; daughter, Dana M. Tilley, Detroit, MI; sisters, Nancy Simpson of Denver, CO and Mary Holderman of Hutchinson; son-in-law, Jim Billings, Denver, CO; nine grandchildren; you are great-grandchildren; and many loving grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents; daughter, Brenda Worley Billings; son-in-law, Jim Tilley; brothers-in-law, Dr. Wallace Holderman and Dr. Ken Simpson; great-granddaughter, Addy Rae Barker; and ex-husband, PK Worley.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at 3pm on Friday 3 March 2023 at Trinity United Methodist Church 1602 N. Main Street, Hutchinson, with the Reverends Michael Tomson-DeGreeff and Kim Biery officiating. The private family uprising will take place in the columbarium of the church. Friends can sign his book from 9am to 5pm Monday through Thursday at Elliott Mortuary. The family will say goodbye to friends from 5-7pm on Thursday, March 2 at the Elliott Mortuary.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Ruth Barker Memorial Fund at the Hutchinson Community Foundation or Trinity United Methodist Church, curated by Elliott Mortuary, 1219 N. Main, Hutchinson, KS 67501.
Published online February 24, 2023
Published in Topeka Capital Journal