Submitted by his Wife
Ryan T. Barker
West Hill Fire Department – New York
Date of Death: July 8‚ 2008
Ryan T. Barker was born February 9‚ 1983‚ to Tom and Linda Barker. He grew up in the small town of Horseheads‚ New York‚ the oldest of three boys. From a young age‚ Ryan knew he wanted to be a firefighter. Ryan is remembered as a spunky child‚ smiling and mischievous‚ and always a step ahead. He had a contagious smile and brightened any situation. Ryan loved soccer‚ lacrosse and hunting. He shared his love for the outdoors with his father‚ grandfather‚ and uncle and‚ most recently‚ with his daughter‚ with whom he watched hunting shows and took long walks in the woods.
Ryan began his firefighting with the Horseheads Fire Department’s Explorer Program while still in high school. His love and dedication was apparent from the beginning. After high school‚ Ryan attended Corning Community College to work on an associate’s degree in fire science. He worked part-time as a firefighter for the Corning City Fire Department‚ while volunteering at Horseheads Fire Department. He was always in the middle of the firehouse antics and is remembered fondly for his wholehearted love of the job. Ryan anxiously accepted any duty put before him and carried out his duties with everything in him. Whether it was a friend in need or a stranger on the side of the road‚ Ryan was always willing to lend a hand.
Ryan began his full-time employment as a firefighter on July 4‚ 2004‚ at the West Elmira Fire Department. This is where he met his future wife‚ Jane Barker‚ who was a volunteer. Ryan and Jane fell in love‚ and Ryan quickly became a role model to Jane and her four children. Ryan was dedicated to his new family and loved being an integral part of this new challenge. He coached the kids’ sports teams and was involved in every aspect of their lives.
In 2006‚ Ryan took a job as a full-time EMT at Erway Ambulance Service and continued to volunteer as a firefighter at Elmira Heights Fire Department and then West Hill Fire Department. In April 2006‚ Ryan and Jane added a baby girl‚ Madison Grace Barker‚ to their family. On June 7‚ 2008‚ Ryan and Jane were married on Canandaigua Lake surrounded by their children‚ family and friends.
A month later‚ July 8‚ 2008‚ Ryan responded to a gas grill fire. Alone in the 1978 pumper truck‚ Ryan was returning to the station when the fire truck lost control and overturned. He was transported to the hospital by Erway Ambulance‚ but succumbed to his extensive injuries. Ryan will be greatly missed by his saddened‚ yet grateful family and community.
Submitted by his Parents
Tribute for Ryan T. Barker:
Ryan wanted to be a firefighter from the time he was three years old. He joined the Horseheads Village F.D. Explorers Club as soon as he was old enough. When the scanner tones sounded‚ he would jump on his bicycle and ride like a cat with his tail on fire the two miles to the fire station. Ryan loved everything about fire fighting: the adrenaline rush‚ the lights‚ the sirens‚ and especially the brotherhood.
He took a multitude of classes to learn about every aspect of it‚ as well as becoming a first responder. Ry received a scholarship when he graduated from high school and attended the Corning Community College fire science program‚ Harvard on the Hill‚ as he referred to it.
He got a part-time job with Corning Fire Department and continued to volunteer at the Horseheads Village station. He got a full-time job with West Elmira F.D. as a driver. Ryan took the EMT course and went to work full-time at Erway Ambulance Company in Elmira. He was a Gold Star of Life recipient for his part in saving a man. He joined a small rural F.D.‚ West Hill‚ as a volunteer.
Ryan was fun-loving and spontaneous. He was known for his smile and ability to cheer up all those around him. You just never knew what he would do next. He could make even an awful movie hilarious with his impressions. He made us laugh until we cried.
He was also a hard worker. He was a proud first-time homeowner and worked endlessly replacing floors‚ tearing down walls‚ installing drywall‚ building a deck‚ digging a fish pond‚ replacing windows‚ and building a playground. Yet he always had a list of projects he wanted to complete.
Ryan got to experience love‚ marriage‚ being a stepfather‚ and holding his own newborn daughter in his arms. He deeply loved his family. He had a great appreciation for nature and hunting and shared that‚ taking walks in the woods with his daughter‚ Maddie‚ and faithful dog‚ Riley‚ scouting for animals and tracks. He was often seen with Maddie perched on his shoulders.
Ryan was very proud of his Irish heritage. He and his two younger brothers‚ Sean and Patrick‚ were the infamous Barker Boys growing up. They were partners in crime‚ shaving the cat‚ cutting limbs out of trees for a better view of the air show‚ singing out a little too loudly Joy to the World (399 in the red book) at each Christmas mass‚ and giving crushing handshakes at the peace offering. Always picking‚ pinching‚ and poking at each other‚ we were asked by the professional photographer not to come back. It’s one of my favorite photographs of them; everyone has that mischievous glint in their eyes. They had a close bond from the time they were little. Ryan asked his brothers to be joint God fathers for his daughter’s christening and joint best men for his wedding.
We all miss Ryan tremendously‚ but it helps to know that he lived every day of his 25 years to the fullest‚ leaving us with so many memories that make us smile. He knew how much he was loved‚ and we in return know how deeply he loved us.