Anniversary underlines tragedy of work death

RACER, footballer, larrikin, father, husband, son - Launceston's Richard Barker packed a lot into a life that  was cut tragically short a year ago.

Always on the go, Squarker - as he was known by his mates - left behind  a devastated network of friends, colleagues and family.

Fourteen hundred mourners attended his funeral after the 43-year-old was killed in a workplace incident at the BIS Industries site at Bell Bay on April 24 last year.

At the funeral he was farewelled in a custom-painted coffin bearing his beloved racing number 53, which was escorted through Launceston by members of the city's motorcycle fraternity.

``It was a bit awesome really,'' his mother, Peggy, said before Thursday's anniversary.

``We knew the funeral would be big but we didn't expect it to be that big.''

Born at Carrick and raised in Launceston, Mr Barker was a mad Collingwood supporter who as a kid would cry when the Pies lost a match. 

From spectator he turned player, first at North Launceston juniors and then Perth, where he played the club's first match under lights at Aurora Stadium. 

``I can remember as a teenager he'd be playing three games of football on a weekend until I stopped him -  he was a bad asthmatic,'' Mrs Barker said.

" 'She'll be right mum', he used to say.''

To say Mr Barker had a passion for motor sport would be an understatement. At first it was modified sedans before developing an interest in motorbike and sidecar racing. 

This came as no surprise given his life-long love of Harley-Davidsons, which he customised himself. 

 ``He used to give kids with leukaemia rides on his bike and do the toy run. He would do anything for anybody,'' Mrs Barker said. ``Whatever it was he was doing, he gave it 100 per cent.''

After becoming a certified wood machinist, Mr Barker worked at Gunns in Lindsay Street for many years. 

When the timber company waned he moved on, getting a job on the Dilston bypass. 

Most recently he had been working on a mine around Kakadu. When the wet season arrived, Mr Barker returned and picked up the job at BIS Industries.

Mr Barker was partway through having a home built at Hillwood when he died. 

Friends stepped in and completed the house for his young family, including wife Jemma and three-year-old Marley-Rose.

Mr Barker is also survived by two sons, Jacob and Liam, from a previous marriage.

Peggy Barker holds a photo of her son Richard and herself. Richard was killed in a workplace incident. Picture: MARK JESSER

Peggy Barker holds a photo of her son Richard and herself. Richard was killed in a workplace incident. Picture: MARK JESSER


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