SEASIDE —For those who know him, it's hard to imagine Doug Barker slowing down, let alone retiring.

“When people jokingly call him the ‘Energizer bunny,’ they really are not joking,” said Laura Kaim, who is replacing Barker as the events coordinator at the Seaside Chamber of Commerce. “He amazes me with his willingness and determination.”

Barker, 67, has stepped down after 17 years as the events coordinator for the chamber, a job he shared with Jean Clark when he was hired.

“It’s time for somebody else to take over,” Barker said, en route to a Canadian vacation with his wife, Cheryle. “We bought this motor home in 2005, and now we’re going to use it.”

Barker’s presence will be missed by the chamber – though the staff is not convinced he’ll be too far away, especially during the big summer events like beach volleyball and soccer.

“He would have to be put into a medical coma for him not to be down on the beach,” said chamber Director Susan Huntington.

Huntington has enjoyed getting to work with Barker since she began her job earlier this year.

“He’s quite a guy,” Huntington said. Barker is “well known and well loved in this community,” she added.

Long involvement

Though Barker had been employed as events coordinator for nearly two decades, he has been involved in the chamber since 1979 and was board president in 1982 and 1983. Barker owned a hardware store in town and then worked at the former North Coast Phone Center.

When Huntington took over the director’s role, she said she was impressed with the depth of Barker’s experience – an unusually full resume for a chamber employee.

“You rarely have that in an employee,” Huntington said, also noting that Barker has lived in Seaside since the age of 5. “He’s like a history book.”

“I’ve learned a lot of history about Seaside and some of the buildings (from Doug),” Kaim said. “I’ve always appreciated history, but having somebody with such life experience for so long in the city ... It was very beneficial.”

Doug and Cheryle Barker have been long-time, prominent volunteers in Seaside: Cheryle Barker won the chamber’s Byron Award, which is awarded to a Seaside citizen who has demonstrated outstanding community service, in 2002, and Doug Barker won it in 2006.

Fire service

Barker has also been a volunteer firefighter for decades and was honored as the Seaside Fire Department’s Firefighter of the Year in 1989 and 2011.

Seaside Fire’s Division Chief Chris Dugan, who has known Barker since 1985, recalls the story of how Barker joined the department.

“His place of business was right by the (fire station),” Dugan said. “He would always stop traffic so the firetrucks could come out.”

Pretty soon, some of the firefighters had an idea.

“Hey, if you’re going to do keep doing this,” Dugan said, “you’ve got to join the fire department.”

Even after the fire station moved, Barker’s new position at the chamber put him within a block of the new station. 

“The joke here is that he uses his desk here to have cups of coffee between fire calls,” Kaim said.

Barker now lives in Gearhart, which has allowed him to join the fire department there, too.

“That tells you how dedicated he is,” Dugan said.

Since Barker took over as events coordinator, the chamber’s three big events, beach volleyball, beach soccer and fireworks – not to mention Hood to Coast, which is not a chamber event but at which the chamber is a vendor – have all exploded in popularity. The beach volleyball tournament once had approximately 700 or 800 teams; this summer, 1,364 teams participated.

Though he’s contributed countless hours to these events, Barker is quick to praise the legions of volunteers, many of them chamber members, who make these events successful.

He may be stepping down as full-time events coordinator and spending part of his year in Arizona, but his chamber colleagues think they’ll still be seeing plenty of him.

“I know that he’s not the type to not volunteer,” Kaim said.

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