Ben Barker ’54

Ben D. Barker died at home on January 2, 2020 from metastatic cancer. He was born December 19, 1931 in Burlington, NC, the son of Guy Edward Barker and Louise King Barker. He married Jeanette Snyder of Burlington and they had three children: Benjamin Edward Barker, Sherry Barker Doherty, and Dale Barker Stapleton. He attended Burlington High school and graduated from Davidson College in 1954.

He received his dental degree with honors from UNC-CH in 1958, subsequently earning a M.Ed at Duke University. He joined the faculty of dentistry at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1958 where he served in various faculty and administrative positions from 1962 to 1975 and as associate dean for academic affairs for 10 years.

In 1975 Dr. Barker joined the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan, as program director in health. There he fostered the development of a wide range of national studies in health and health care policy and assisted the foundation’s programming efforts in the United States, Latin America and other regions.

As its first director, he led the initiation of the Kellogg National Fellows Program, a national leadership development endeavor which continued until 2002. Dr. Barker returned to Chapel Hill, serving as dean of the School of Dentistry from 1981 to 1989.

In 1984 he became co-director of the Pew National Dental Education Program, a national leadership development and strategic planning initiative in the nation’s dental schools. Subsequently he served as senior fellow at the Cecil Sheps Center for Health Services Research, was chairman of the Council on Dental Education of the American Dental Association and chairman of the National Commission on Dental Accreditation. Dr. Barker was a member of the National Academy of Medicine, and served eleven years as a trustee of Davidson College. For his service to the State he received North Carolina’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

During his retirement in Wilmington, NC, he served as a member and chairman of the board of Davis Community, a comprehensive health care facility; on the executive board of Cape Fear CouncilBoy Scouts of America, and as a charter member of the board of visitors at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He was a lifelong Presbyterian, and always proud of being an Eagle Scout.

He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Jeanette Snyder Barker, children Benjamin Edward Barker (Karen-deceased), Sherry Barker Doherty, and Dale Barker Stapleton (Brian), six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and his sister Sara Barker Marshburn of Greensboro.

There will be a celebration of life on January 25 at 2 p.m. in the auditorium of Carolina Meadows, 100 Whippoorwill Lane, Chapel Hill, NC.

Memorial contributions may be sent to No Kid Hungry NC, Gift Fund@UNC; Share Our Strength, P.O. Box 75475, Baltimore, MD 21275-5475; OR the NC Wildlife Federation, 1024 Washington Street, Raleigh, NC 27605.

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