Mary Traylor Barker, Chattanooga, one of the area’s leading educators for the last 60 years, passed away peacefully on June 23, 2018, after a long illness.
Mary was born on October 2, 1927 to J.V.A. Traylor and his wife, Lucille. Mary grew up in Woodsfield, Ohio. After graduating from high school she attended Lipscomb University, followed by the Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
She was married to C.B. (Jack) Barker of Dunlap, Tennessee on October 10, 1953 in a home wedding. Mary received a degree from the University of Chattanooga; a master’s degree in English from Vanderbilt; and a PhD in English Literature from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Mary taught for ten years at Chattanooga High School, rising to the position of vice principal for academics, and sponsoring the classes of 1962 and 1966. She followed her time at Chattanooga High School at Cleveland State Community College where she ultimately became the dean of academic affairs. Upon her “retirement” the humanities building at Cleveland State was named the Mary T. Barker Humanities Building.
After that “retirement”, she was called back into service as vice president of academic affairs for some nine years at Chattanooga State. Following that “retirement”, she became an adjunct professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. There are literally thousands of students in Chattanooga that benefitted from Mary Barker’s English teaching and leadership.
She and her husband, Jack, were also very active in the cultural scene of Chattanooga. For many years Mary wrote program notes for the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra where she also served on the board. She was also on the board of the Choral Arts Society, the Tennessee Humanities Council, and the Chattanooga Youth Symphony. She was on the recent search committee for the conductor of the Chattanooga Symphony.
Mary was specially honored by the state of Tennessee in April, 2013 for her “Decades of Doing” and for living a life with courage and conviction.
Survivors include her husband of 65 years, Jack Barker; sister, Barbara Traylor Young of Columbus, Ohio; nieces Lisa and Sara; nephew Brett A. Young; and surrogate children, Dr. Michael F. and Mary Lynn Adams of Athens, Georgia, where Dr. Adams served as president of the University of Georgia for many years.
Mary was an active member of the First Christian Church of Chattanooga.
Memorial contributions may be made to First Christian Church, Cleveland State Community College, or the Chattanooga Symphony and Orchestra.
A service celebrating her life will be held 12 noon, June, 30, at First Christian Church of Chattanooga. The family will receive friends 10AM – 12 noon. Interment will be at Hamilton Memorial Gardens, Hixson, TN.
Arrangements are by Heritage Funeral Home & Crematory, Battlefield Parkway.