Robert E. Lee Barker, of Charleston, South Carolina, passed away on October 28, 2018, following a brief illness, in the company of his husband, David Johnson. Born in Port Jefferson, New York on October 20, 1929, Bob was preceded in death by his father, Edward Cadman Barker, mother, Luta Margaret Moody Barker, and beloved sister, Virginia Catherine Barker Thompson.
Bob was raised in Port Jefferson, New York, and served his country in the United States Army during the Korean War. Following his discharge from the Army, Bob returned to Port Jefferson where he pursued his professional passions in interior design and historic preservation with considerable success for over two decades before moving to Charleston with his mother, Margaret, in the mid-1970s. Once settled in Charleston, Bob continued his work in design and historic preservation on larger canvas that Charleston represents. Bob’s love of Charleston shone through this passion for historic preservation and his active role in many renovation projects.
Throughout his adult life, Bob always held a special place for Drayton Hall located just outside of Charleston. Bob had the great fortune to visit the iconic 18th century Palladian estate in the 1960s, while it was still owned by the Drayton family, and returned in the 1970s to help open Drayton Hall as a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Serving as Interim Executive Director on occasion, Bob’s passion for interpreting and presenting history touched countless individuals through his magical tours as Drayton Hall’s Senior Interpreter for nearly four decades. In 2012, Drayton Hall established a fund in Bob’s name to honor his dedication to Drayton Hall and our shared American past.
Bob remained active in retirement. He was an enthusiastic gardener and chef, whose Thanksgiving dinners were widely regarded as culinary masterpieces. Bob was active in many local causes, and was a dedicated parishioner at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on Anson Street in Charleston.
Bob married his husband, David Johnson, in 2016. They resided happily on Ashley Avenue in Charleston until Bob’s passing. Bob is survived by David, as well as by his nephews and nieces, Craig, Shelly, Keith, Lisa and Kyle Thompson, and his cousins, Dr. Margaret M. Coyle of Asheville, North Carolina, with whom he shared many adventures, John, James and Ellen Coyle.
Memorial arrangements will be the subject of a further announcement. In lieu of other remembrances, donations in celebration of Bob’s life may be made to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 67 Anson Street, Charleston, South Carolina 29401, or to Drayton Hall, 3380 Ashley River Road, Charleston, South Carolina 29414 for the Robert E. Lee Barker Interpretation Fund.