HELEN LUCILLE BARKER May 21, 1921 – Nov. 9, 2021
Helen Lucille Barker was born in Fairview, Pennsylvania on May 21, 1921. She was the oldest of four children in her family, and grew up on a farm with a view overlooking Lake Erie. Helen learned to be adept with tools from her father, who worked for the Marx Toy company and was also an auto mechanic and a man of many other skills.
After graduating from high school, Helen went to work at a TNT plant in Pennsylvania. Hearing about available jobs in Tennessee, Helen joined five other young women and drove (in one car!) to Oak Ridge. “They told us we were making green paint,” Helen remembered, but knew that she was involved in the process of separating isotopes of uranium. Helen worked in Oak Ridge for 15 years (during and after WWII), and remembered the spirit of unity, support for the soldiers, and the feeling of shared responsibility to “build up the country”.
In 1958 Helen bought a new Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe, and moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico. Helen worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, mostly in group CMB-1 as a chemical technician.
Helen was an active member of the Trinity Bible Church. One of her particular interests was in maintaining personal contact with the missionaries associated with her church. The church became Helen’s family in Los Alamos.
Helen retired from LANL in 1987. She enjoyed gardening in her backyard, but her greatest interest was in seeing the world. “The most fabulous thing I did in my life was traveling. I have been to Africa twice – I went alone, not on a tour, and made my own arrangements.” On these trips Helen also visited Greece, India, China, and Japan. Helen’s last international trip was to eastern Turkey.
Helen gave this advice to her high school neighbor in 2005: “Be kind, thankful, and grateful for everything. Do not put anybody down. If you are happy with yourself then you’ll be happy towards other people. I am very happy now, except for not being young.”
Helen is survived by her sister Ruth Mann.
She is preceded in death by her brother Robert Barker and her sister Jeanette Waldo. There will be a memorial service for Helen on Nov. 20 at 3 p.m. at Crossroads Bible Church.