Adam Ross BarkerJune 12, 1977 ~ June 11, 2017 (age 39)
Adam Ross Barker died one day shy of his 40th birthday on June 11, 2017. He was a uniquely gifted person and led a remarkable life. Born in Bloomington, IN, he moved with his parents to Mishawaka when he was a little more than a month old. He was a delightful infant, sleeping through the night after his ninth day of life. By age three, he resembled having another adult in the house. His bond with his family was incredibly close, maintaining a lifetime of focus on the welfare and happiness of his parents, Ron and Karen Barker, and his little brother Andy – whose first word “Da” was pointedly a reference to Adam.
Adam went to a variety of schools as we pursued what we thought was best for him. The Mishawaka Gifted and Talented program was a critical foundation, built further by three years of Trinity at Greenlawn. He then went to Penn in hopes of pursuing physics, but quickly grew bored. He was accepted at IUSB during his sophomore year in high school and completed over 40 hours of mathematics there while still attending high school. He became a near Olympic-level small-caliber marksman, ranking 33rd in the competition for the 1996 US Olympic shooting team. He dawdled a bit as he began college officially in Bloomington, but then returned to IUSB to cheerfully complete his degree in Computer Science in 1999 under a group of brilliant and dedicated professors.
The rise of his career was meteoric. Beginning with a prestigious internship at Trilogy in Austin, Texas, he quickly moved on to be one of the early software designers at Google. He was Lead Designer for the team that built and launched Gmail. In 2007, he announced to his unpleased father that he wanted to leave Google “because it was just getting too big”. But then, “Don’t worry…” he said, “I’m going to a little company called LinkedIn.” There too, he was a Lead Designer. He earned a number of software patents and was awarded honorary “Engineering Jackets” from both Google and LinkedIn. When LinkedIn went public in 2011, Adam immediately left to begin his own company with a friend in Toronto, Canada. While there, he was vividly impressed with the decency and effectiveness of the Canadian National Health Care System, which he desperately wanted extended in some form to America. His company, named EmployTouch, developed a tablet-based employee time clock with software features that simply blew away the antiquated mechanical clocks of the day. The company was acquired by Ultimate Software in Weston, Florida in October 2013 and Adam returned home to Mishawaka to be near his family. He loved Mishawaka, continuing to work from home and flying periodically to Florida to consult and manage a design team for Ultimate. He believed that mentoring people in his profession was one of life’s greatest joys.
Adam was full of good cheer, wry humor, kindness, compassion and generosity. It was hardly possible for anyone to mention a need but what he would fulfill it two days later through Amazon. He donated unselfishly to charities, including WVPE Public Radio and Pet Refuge. He loved his cats and treated them with a tenderness that most men would hardly understand.
Adam did have some very serious girlfriends but never, to their disappointment and ours, chose to marry. He had a deep passion for building LEGO models with his mother and brother, and probably set some sort of record as a customer of that company. He was also an extraordinary photographer and chef and was in the process of developing a new passion for woodworking. He loved travel and served as a Google Ambassador to Sweden in 2006. In the last year he had traveled with his parents to Mexico, Italy and around the American West, producing beautiful photographs along the way.
Adam became ill with severe headaches and a variety of illnesses in August last year. His health troubles waxed and waned through the next ten months, but no firm diagnosis ever emerged. Though no cause of death has yet been determined, it appears likely he died of a combination of his medicines and congestive heart failure. Such a tragedy!
Nearly all deaths create deep grief for the remaining family and loved ones, but Adam’s loss is one of those that can only be described as “utterly shattering” for those who remain. We hardly know how to go on without his love, humor and perceptive companionship. He leaves bereft his mother, father and brother as well as John Justice and his wife Deb. John, whom we added to our family as a teen, quickly became and always remained like a brother from another mother. Adam also leaves behind aunts and uncles, Kenneth R. and Sarah Evans Barker, and Phil and Barb Yasson, and many cousins. Friends have called from around the world to express condolences. We extend the most heartfelt thanks to all our dear friends and acquaintances who have attempted to console us in our grief.
Adam’s remains will be cremated with visitation at Goethals & Wells Funeral Home, 503 W. 3rd Street, Mishawaka, from 4 – 7 pm on Wednesday, June 28, and where a Celebration of Life Service will be held at 11 am on Thursday, June 29. There will be a private burial in Fairview Cemetery at a later date.
We are going to begin a scholarship foundation in Adam’s name for promising IUSB computer science students. Donations (checks) should be made to Indiana University Foundation (Adam Barker in memo line); Attention: Dina S. Harris, Director of Development; IU South Bend, South Bend, IN 46634.