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Published: Tuesday, 6/3/2008

Ex-Hillsdale College V.P. taught journalism

HILLSDALE - CarolAnn Barker, a former dean and vice president at Hillsdale College, died of an aneurysm Sunday in Cleveland Clinic. She was 68.

Mrs. Barker became dean of women at the college in 1980.

Along with her work as a dean, she taught journalism. In 1987, she was named director of student affairs and in 1996, vice president of student affairs.

A statement from the college credited her with sustaining increased freshman retention, and said over her years there she supervised career planning, Greek life, and the women's council, among other projects.

Even after retiring in 2006, she worked three days a week in academic counseling, her husband, Jack Barker, said.

She continued in that capacity through this past academic year and into the summer school session.

"I would ask her, 'When are you going to quit?' " Mr. Barker said. "She was a born teacher. She could relate to kids and kids could relate to her."

A 1963 graduate of Hillsdale College who majored in English, Mrs. Barker was known for correcting improper grammar she heard in conversation, Mr. Barker said.

"If someone used the wrong grammar, they were immediately told about it."

She met her husband, a 1965 graduate of the school, at the college.

Mrs. Barker taught at high schools in the Detroit area and Hillsdale before returning to the college in 1980.

An avid reader, she also loved to knit, and enjoyed cooking, her husband said. "She had cookbooks from here to kingdom come."

Mrs. Barker's daughter, Shawn-Laree de St. Aubin, recalled her mother as an avid shopper, and also as someone who loved music of all types, but especially opera and classical.

She was a founding member of the Hillsdale Arts Chorale, her daughter said.

Mrs. Barker was a skilled piano player.

"One of my fondest memories is that [every night] she would start dinner and then from 5 to 6 p.m. she would play the piano," her daughter said.

Mr. Barker said his wife worked hard at the college not to pursue acclaim from her peers, but because of her love of her students.

Their daughter added that her mother stayed in touch with students she taught more than 30 years ago.

"It's not the typical student-teacher relationship she had; it became more of a mentoring relationship or friendship."

Surviving are her husband, Jack Barker; daughter, Shawn-Laree de St. Aubin; father,

McClelland Coppler; sisters, Marlene Christopher and Norma Beagley, and brothers, Mark and Bill Coppler.

Visitation will be after 5 p.m. Thursday in the VanHorn-Eagle Funeral Home, Hillsdale. A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Friday at College Baptist Church, Hillsdale.



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