Michael Dean Barker (’78)

Michael Dean (Mike) Barker, age 66, passed away in Corpus Christi, Texas on Sunday, May 3, 2020.Mike was known for “Makin’ People Schmile.” He was born in Algoa, Texas on November 7, 1953 to Francis (Frank) Charles Barker Sr. and Geraldine Belle Rymal Barker. He was the youngest of four children. He was surrounded by an extended family who nurtured his love for music.Mike and Monique Barker were married on December 26, 2007.Mike was the beloved father of Ryan Scott Barker and Matthew Gerald Barker, and the proud Opa of Delia, Charlotte, Corina and William (Will) Barker. He is survived by his wife, Monique; son and daughter-in-law, Ryan and Cheryl Barker; son and daughter-in-law, Matthew and Alicia Barker; grandchildren: Delia, Charlotte, Corina and William (Will) Barker; sister, Jerry (Susie) Munsch; brother, Francis (Sonny) Barker Jr.; dear cousin Barbara Nolan; step-children, Christy Miller, Valerie Marin, Johnny Marin Jr.; former spouse, Deborah Higginbotham Barker.He is predeceased by his parents, Frances (Frank) Charles Barker Sr. and Geraldine Belle Rymal Barker, and his sister, Patsy Barker Todd.Mike graduated from Santa Fe High School in 1972 and from the University of Houston in 1977.Mike began playing tuba in middle school and quickly became driven to become the best. His drive was rewarded with a successful career in music that began when he was only 16 years, playing tuba with the Galveston Beach Band. Destined to be a leader of music, during high-school, Mike formed his own Tijuana Brass Band. Also, at 16 years old, Mike started playing German folk music in a German restaurant in Dickinson, Texas. He performed with Die Bergvagabunden for several years before forming his own band, Alpenfest, in 1984.Mike played steady gigs at several Houston and Galveston area restaurants including Hofbraugarten, Bavarian Gardens, and Rudi Lechner’s Restaurant (over 20 years). He also performed for 15 years with the All-girl Dixieland band at Astro World in Houston, Texas. He and his band, Alpenfest, performed at many, many festivals throughout the United States and Europe. His most notable festival was Wurstfest, held every fall in New Braunfels, Texas. He first played at Wurstfest in 1977 and played every year for 36 years. Mike was especially proud of his appearances on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor in 1997 and in a Blue Bell Creameries commercial in 2007.Mike organized “Alpenfest Tours” in 1991 and took annual tours with hundreds of fans to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, etc. through 2014. He has many dear friends in Europe. His most cherished destination in Europe is a little town in Austria, named Werfen.Mike was also an award-winning teacher. He taught intermediate school band for more than 30 years in the Clear Creek ISD and nurtured the musical careers of many students. Mike sometimes rode a bicycle to school, wearing an orange vest that said, “School Teacher, Can’t Afford Gas.”Mike was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2005. He continued to teach music and play music until his health conditions made it impossible. During his lengthy battle with the disease, he maintained a joyful and loving attitude. Mike will be deeply missed by everyone whose life he touched. Due to the coronavirus restrictions, at this time, it is not possible to hold a fitting memorial for a man of Mike’s prominence. We want to celebrate his life with his extensive circle of family, friends, students and fans. A memorial service will be held for Michael Barker at a future date.

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