Paul was born on April 12, 1950, in Big Orange Country - Oak Ridge, Tenn., where his father worked at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The family moved back to Alabama when Paul was in the sixth grade. From his Tennessee childhood he earned the nickname, Oakie, and was a lifelong fan of the Tennessee Volunteers. He attended Thach School, graduated from Walker High School in 1968 and went on to receive a bachelor's degree in secondary education from St. Bernard College in Cullman and a master's degree from UAB. He began his teaching career in 1972 at Jasper Junior High (now Maddox Middle School) and taught there for five years. He moved to Walker High School where he spent the next 24 years teaching math and coaching boys' basketball as well as girls' softball and basketball. He was responsible for establishing programs for both girls' basketball and softball during his tenure at Walker. He retired in 2001 and became what was affectionately known as the “minister of maintenance” at Northside Baptist Church, where he worked until his cancer diagnosis in June.
A member of Northside Baptist Church since 1982, he was an avid reader and Bible student. He served as a teacher in many church organizations and was foremost a Christian husband, father, son and brother.
He was preceded in death by his father, Cecil Barker.
He is survived by his wife of 31 years, Phyllis Turner Barker of Jasper; daughter, Erin Rebekah Barker of Hoover; mother, Sylvia Barker of Jasper; sister, Jean McCracken of Dora; mother-in-law, Dorothy Turner of Jasper; niece, Karen Bunch (Jim) of Jasper; nephew, Dr. Marty (Lynn) Steelmon of Decatur; many aunts, uncles and extended family; and a host of church family, former players, students, fellow teachers and coaches.
Pallbearers will be Steve Byars, Ed Davidson, Mark Nichols, Terry Rice, Dustin Bailey, Rick Brown, Kenny Northrop, Dr. Buddy Thorne and Blake Walton.
Honorary pallbearers will be Paul Eugene "Pete" Gwin, Coach Phil Schumacher, Coach Omar Faucett, James Davidson, members of his Sunday School class, former teachers, players and students from his years at Walker High School and the men of Northside Baptist Church with whom he prayed on Tuesday mornings and made yearly building and construction mission trips.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like to request that memorials be made to the Preschool Department at Northside Baptist Church, 500 Highway 78 East, Jasper, AL 35501.
His last teaching position at Northside was teaching young adults, and it would be his desire that their small children have a beautiful and wonderful place to learn about the love of the Lord he served.
The family would like to thank Jeff Chambless and the staff of ComfortCare Hospice for their kind and compassionate care, as well as the many, many members of Northside Baptist Church who ministered to them during this difficult time. Special thanks to his caregiver, Shelia Hall. May God richly repay all of you for your great kindness to Paul and the family.