First Responders 05

John W Barker

April 8, 1941 ~ April 12, 2019 (age 78)


John W. Barker, ‘Pa’, age 78, passed away on April 12, 2019 at Intermountain Medical Center due to complications of a complex disease.  He was born on April 8, 1941 in Provo, Utah to Mildred M. and John J. Barker.  John lost his dad due to a plane crash at age 4.  He was raised in Provo and Magna by his single mom with his three sisters.  He attended Cyprus High school where he forged his mother’s name in order to play football and wrestle.  He joined the Army reserve during the last years of high school and worked at Auerbach’s department store where he met the love of his life, Jo Jacobson.

In 1971 he joined the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office (later to become Unified Police Department) as a deputy sheriff where he was to work for the next 45 years.  John loved working in law enforcement and held many assignments including patrol, K9, vice, burglary, and the tac squad.  K9 was his passion.  He had 10 different four-legged partners during his career, and he continued to judge the K9 competitions.  The last several years before his retirement he worked as the afternoon watch commander.  He also was a coordinator of the Peer Support Team, in which he continued to serve as a volunteer after his retirement.  John had a magnetic personality.  He was kind, caring, and loved to share his knowledge and experience with others.  He was quite a story-teller of his many adventures. He was known to the law enforcement community as ‘Pa’ Barker and was considered a father by many.  He loved this law enforcement family and they loved him.

John and Jo were married 52 wonderful years.  They had two sons, Paul and Eric.  John was a wonderful supportive father.  He coached little league football for 20 years continuing to do so after his sons were grown.  He watched his sons follow their career paths, marry and start their own families.  John loved his grandchildren.  He spent hours going to Tavin, Kael, and Brox’s sporting events, helping pick them up from school, and watching them.  He treasured the summers that Christian and Sam came to stay with them, although Sam would only let him have one cookie.  One of the grandkids favorite activities was watching the Incredibles with John; to his grandchildren he was Mr. Incredible.

John and Jo loved to travel and see the world.  Alaska was one of their favorite destinations and they were planning a trip this August.  He would not let Jo cancel it, despite his illness, as he was determined to recuperate by then; a sign of his optimistic and positive attitude that remained until the end. Wherever he went, whether it was swimming at the rec club or the rehabilitation center where he spent his final days, he made friends for life.  He was an amazing man and our world is a lonely place without him.

The family wishes to thank the staff of Aspen Ridge Rehabilitation Center and Intermountain Medical Center for their care of John over the past few months.

John was preceded in death by his parents; two sisters, Bonnie and Evelyn; several law enforcement colleagues; and his K9 partners, Biff, Max, Smoky, Ben, Charlie, Shadow (Slimer), Arco, Molly and Duke.

He is survived by his wife Jo; Sons, Paul (Navina) and Eric (Jennifer); grandchildren, Tavin, Christian, Sam, Kael, and Brox; sister, Margaret; many nephews and nieces; several friends; and his law enforcement family.

John did not want a formal funeral, instead a celebration of John’s life will be held on Saturday, April 20, 2019 from 1:00-5:00 pm at the Karen Gail Miller Conference Center 9750 South 300 West-Sandy, Utah 84070.  Please bring your favorite story of John to share.

In lieu of flowers have a toast or share a kind thought about John.

Online condolences may be left at

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John W Barker, please visit our floral store.


Celebration of Life
April 20, 2019

1:00 PM
Karen Gail Miller Conference Center
9750 South 300 West
Sandy, UT 84070

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