Barney Baker died on April 27 during a hernia surgery at Oregon Health and Science University. He was 69.
The news was a shock to his family that might never wear off. Barney was a commercial fisherman, a builder and designer of fishing nets, a fisheries scientist, a veteran, a blueberry cultivator, a fan of the guitar and of chess, and a member of the Soka Gokkai. He leaves behind Maureen, his wife of 42 years, sons Nick and Karl, daughters in-law Jeannette and Tiffany, and his grandson Russell. The way Barney lived shaped those around him. He taught his sons his craft and his Buddhist faith, and while they followed their own paths, those lessons continue to resonate.
Barney had an inextinguishable fire that motivated him to take on new projects, even as life's obstacles worked to push him off course. He earned his college degree at 56. After retirement, Barney spent much of his time either with his grandson, or working on the development of a new fishing trap designed to catch invasive lionfish, which in recent years have damaged ocean environments in the Caribbean and elsewhere.
Barney's fierce advocacy extended to many causes and he pushed back against anyone in power he thought was doing harm. If you knew him, you might have seen this. He had faced off with police when he witnessed abuse. He had protested Shell when the company tried to sail an oil rig to Alaska. And, he even heckled Donald Trump after he stumbled upon his Washington, D.C. rally in 2016.
Barney lived this way because he didn't have the patience to allow superficial judgments to dissuade him. He followed his unique path throughout his years, from being a lone bicyclist on Louisiana roads in his younger days, to designing and building nets in parks, to chanting nam-myoho-renge-kyo in airports or any other public places.
Barney also had counseled friends as they struggled with life's challenges – many of the same kinds he had also faced during his years. In the days after his death, some have shared these stories. Please, anyone who can, continue to share your memories.
We recently found a poem scribbled in his notebook. We don’t know if he wrote it, or just saw it and wanted to remember the message. Either way, it was important to him.
--- All together now. No island alone. No nation will do without.
For if even one is imperiled, no one is secure. No safe place in an unkind world.
Spread the vax
To send flowers to Barney's family, please visit our floral store.