Millholland Barker has been standing with Jamaica – contributing to education, business, politics and volunteerism – despite constant appeals for him to join relatives in greener pastures.
“Mi nuh like foreign,” he said, noting: “I don’t have to carry a wallet; I can just go on a plane.”
Barker was born and raised at Annotto Bay in St. Mary, but has been living at Ewarton in St. Catherine since 1974 when he went to teach at Ewarton High School after leaving Mico University College.
“Since then, I have been serving the community of Ewarton instinctively – without thinking about what could happen afterwards,” he told The Beacon. “I assist people; I give them work; I counsel them; I have never ceased being a community person.”
On 5 November 2020, the Ewarton Community Development Committee (Ewarton CDC) awarded Barker for his indomitable contribution.
The committee, during a ceremony at Ewarton Community Centre, also honoured three other community stalwarts – Dorrell Francis, Daniel Blake, and Donald Tinling Snr.
Barker indicated that, although he previously received numerous awards, he felt ‘very good’ about the latest one because it came from his community.
“It feels very good to know that you are appreciated and your actions have been recognized to the point where it can be appreciated in this way,” he said.
Barker, who recently spent a month in hospital, is not only a Justice of the Peace in his community.
He is Chairman of the McGrath Road Basic School, a founding member of the Browns Town Aspiring Youths Club, Vice Chairman of the Northern Queens Football Club, and Public Relations Officer of the Ewarton High School board.
Barker also serves as Vice Chairman of the St. Catherine early childhood board, executive member of the Jamaica Early Childhood Association, President of St. Catherine Cricket Association, and committee member of Jamaica Cricket Association.
In his younger years, Barker represented Ewarton in football and cricket. He was a Division One footballer, and captain of the St. Catherine cricket team.
“I was a top sportsman in my time,” he asserted.
Barker’s professional life spans various industries. He taught at Ewarton High School until 1982 when he became an insurance sales rep at Life Of Jamaica. He has been General Manager at Acid Security Services since he parted company with Life of Jamaica in 1994.
Barker’s journey also took him into politics.
He contested Local Government Elections for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the Ewarton Division, which is located in St. Catherine North West – a stronghold of the People’s National Party (PNP).
He lost on both occasions despite significantly increasing his total number of votes and narrowing the margin of victory secured by his PNP opponent, Beverly Jobson-Grant.
Barker’s penchant for politics is no surprise.
His late father, Aston Barker, served the JLP in St. Mary South Eastern for decades as constituency organizer, playing a pivotal role in victories secured by two former Members of Parliament – Alva Ross and his father Andrew Ross. The elder Barker also was bestowed with a national honour in the 1980s, his son recalled.
The son, who described himself as a devoted family man, has six children.
“I don’t have any daughter, but mi raise whole heap a dem,” he said.
“I have said it before, without boast, that I am a successful parent. I say it because I know of the challenge some other parents have. I didn’t have to beat my pickney dem.”
Barker also noted that some of his sons did not start out as scholars. However, he is proud that they all have matured into successful professionals working in different parts of the globe – the United States, Canada, and the Middle East.
Barker, who said he was among the first batch of graduates from St. Mary High School in 1964, has been married to Odith Barker for 43 years… and counting.
He was asked how he would like to be remembered by the Ewarton community. “Everybody knows me and knows that I am approachable. I am a person who does not carry any pet peeve for anybody; I go about seeking to assist people,” Barker replied.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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