Deborah "Debbie" Ann (Mills) Barker left this earth for heaven after a brave nine-year battle with metastatic breast cancer. She was born January 9, 1954, to Robert D. and Dorothy M. (Newell) Mills and grew up in rural Carroll County near Delphi, IN. Debbie graduated from Twin Lakes High School of Monticello, IN, in May 1972. Her love for music led her to DePauw University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in Music Education. At the University of Illinois, she graduated in August of 1977 with a Master of Science in Music Education. Her first teaching job was in the Twin Lakes School Corporation where she taught elementary music at Yeoman and Eastlawn Elementaries. After three years, she moved to Roosevelt Middle School where she led the choral program from 1980-1987. In 1987 she began a 25-year teaching career in the Tri-County School Corporation where she taught elementary music in both the Wolcott and Remington Elementaries (later Tri-County Intermediate) and 6th grade choir.
It was while attending the University of Illinois that Debbie met the love of her life, Tom Barker. The couple was married on June 17, 1978. Their shared love of music brought them into contact with thousands of students. One of Debbies proudest accomplishments was following her former students who went on to teaching careers, particularly those in music education.
Debbie loved her Lord Jesus deeply and was a member of First Presbyterian Church of Monticello from 1981-1998 where she served two terms on the Board of Deacons, First United Methodist Church of Monticello from 1998-2005, and Covenant Church of West Lafayette from 2005-present. Music was always a huge part of Debbies servant heart at church where she sang in the choirs and often accompanied the adult choirs. She also accompanied the childrens choir at Covenant from 2009-2020.
Debbie was a member of the Gamma Eta chapter of Kappa Kappa Kappa in Monticello from 1980-2003 where she served as Corresponding Secretary, Vice-President, and President. She was also a member of the Twin Lakes Band Boosters, serving as the chair of the first ever Spirit of the Lakes marching band contest in the fall of 2002.
Debbie accompanied hundreds of students for the Indiana State School Music Associations Solo and Ensemble contest, both instrumental and vocal.
Debbie was initiated into the Gamma Mu chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma in December of 1996. She enjoyed being a member with such great teachers until her fathers health declined.
Her life was changed in April of 1999 when Debbie attended a Walk to Emmaus near Syracuse, IN. That one weekend spurred 21 years of service in both the Northern Indiana Emmaus and Lafayette Great Banquet communities from 1999-2020. Debbie was often found behind the piano or keyboard, leading music for one of those weekends.
In more recent years, Debbie found great purpose in coming alongside the families of caregivers at Joyful Journey of West Lafayette. Heart 2 Heart was formed by the founders of Joyful Journey to remind caregivers of those impacted by elderly dementia that they are not alone. What a joy-filled group Heart 2 Heart continues to be!
A special thank you goes to the oncology team at Horizon Oncology with Ajita Narayan and at Franciscan Hospital with Dr. Niraj Gupta, Joni, Samantha, and nurses Blaire, Tasha, and Janae who brought such encouragement and help. Dr. Scott Cooper of Morter Healthcare in Carmel and Dorothea Goold of Threshhold Counseling of West Lafayette helped Debbie fight this battle with strength and courage. Your kindness and compassion will be long remembered!
Debbie is survived by her husband, Tom, daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Whybrew (Nathan) of Wabash, IN, and son, John H. Barker (Melissa) of Huntsville, AL. She was also a very proud grandparent of Tucker, Tessa, Trey, and Tate Whybrew, and Luke and Levi Barker. Debbie believed there was no greater calling than to be a parent, and her children and grandchildren were her true pride and joy. She is also survived by her mother, Dorothy (Newell) Mills, siblings Marsha (Ed) Oilar, Lois (John) Anderson, Clara (David Molden), Mark (Michelle) Mills, sisters-in-law Jody Gillespie and Linsday (Dave) Verno, and brother-in-law, Jim (Georgi) Barker, ten nieces and nephews, and 13 great nieces and nephews, whom she all adored!
Visitation will be Friday, August 26, 2022 from 3pm until 7pm at the First Presbyterian Church of Monticello located at 104 N. Illinois St, Monticello, IN.
Funeral services celebrating Debbie's life will be at 10:30 am Saturday at the church with Pastor Donna Enersen, Rev. Nathan Whybrew, and Rev. Kelly Lindsay officiating. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions are preferred and encouraged to Joyful Journey of West Lafayette with envelopes available at the church. For online giving, see joyfuljourneywl.org
Friends and family are encouraged to share a photo, a memory, or messages of condolence at www.springervoorhisdraper.com