City of Stamford Citizen of the Year 

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Robert Barker

U.S. Navy

Bob was born in Castine, Maine, right on Penobscot Bay almost exactly 87 years ago on April 11. Happy Birthday Bob! After graduating from Warren Harding High (Bridgeport) in 1948, Bob joined the U.S. Navy Reserves until called to active duty in support of the Korean War.

 

Bob requested Destroyer duty because he felt they were large enough to cross any ocean yet small enough to always sense you were "at sea." He served aboard the Destroyer Joseph P Kennedy, Jr., as Petty Officer Electronic Technician until transferring to the Olathe Kansas Naval Air Station to study radar systems, and then went on to the Naval Air Station at Lakehurst, N.J.

 

His tech training came in handy when he joined IBM after his honorable discharge in 1954, where he spent 10 years working on its largest computers. Then, in 1964 he decided to pursue his passion with British motor cars, opening a dealership selling MGs, Austin Healeys, Triumphs and others. Not one to be pigeonholed, four years later Bob embarked on a career in finance, working with Hornblower & Weeks, Hemphill-Noyes, and then Merrill Lynch, where he retired as a Vice President in 1990. Bob then opened his own investment firm, which he sold in 2011, retiring once again!

 

Bob has never been defined only by service, work or career. An avid rock climber, he's climbed mountains in Italy, Sweden, Yosemite and others, sometimes as a member of the International Alpine Club and the Appalachian Mountain Club. He even climbed the Unisphere at the site of the 1964 World's Fair in Queens (where he was spotted by a police helicopter and "urged" to descend, courtesy of an only slightly amused NYPD).

 

Bob has driven race cars and piloted planes. He has flown regular missions for Angel Flight Northeast, transporting patients and their loved ones to and from treatment centers in his own airplane and at his own expense. He remembers the plights of many patients, all of whom were understandably deeply grateful for his service.

 

Bob has also served for many years as a pro bono arbitrator for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and has evaluated top-flight law students as a mock trial judge.

 

Bob currently serves as the Director of the United Flying Octogenarians (UFO), an international flying organization promoting the longevity of physical and mental health—obviously with some real success.

2018