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Barbara Jean (Parker) Linaker

Barbara Jean Linaker

Barbara is known as a woman who takes pride in everything she does. From her passion for volunteering, in particular with the United Church and the Lions Club, to her term as Town Councillor in Millet, Barbara has had an immense effect on the community.

Barbara Jean Parkerwas born on December 20, 1931 in Cardiff, Alberta. Jack and Barbara Parker had expected her arrival in February of 1932. Due to a scare to her mother, early labor onset, and she was born two months premature. As a result, she weighed a mere four pounds, two ounces at birth.

Barbara is the second of four children in the family. She has an older sister, Shirley, and two younger siblings, Brian and Kathleen. Growing up, Barbara was a tomboy who enjoyed hunting and playing in the pasture. With a strong sense of justice, Barbara often got into fights with other children to protect her sister, Kathleen, who was being bullied. It was Barbara’s childhood that led her to become a strong woman.

Throughout their childhood, the family moved between Cardiff and Nordegg, Alberta following their father’s job opportunities with the coal mines. This lifestyle changed drastically on April 1, 1950 when her father died as a result of a diabetic coma. Barbara’s mother attempted to earn an income for the family using Jack’s coal truck, but was unsuccessful. She sold the truck and moved the family to Edmonton, where she ran a boarding house for girls who wanted to come into the city to further their education. She later worked for Premier Manning as a house keeper and a receptionist.

In order to assist with living expenses, Barbara started working in Edmonton in the Metropolitan Department Store’s jewelry department and worked her way up to handling accounts payable/receivable in the office. She then worked at Woodward’s in the shoe department, a position she held until she became ill and had to take some time off work. When she returned to Woodward’s, she was transferred to the credit office and also modelled for the store.

While working at Woodward’s, Barbara met John Hinch, and on June 3, 1953 they were married. During this time she was living with her sister Shirley and Shirley’s husband Ed, as John was working out of town. After John’s project had finished, he returned home. During the course of their marriage, John and Barbara welcomed two children into their lives. Gregory was the oldest and was born in 1958. Kathleen was born in 1969. After seventeen years of marriage the couple divorced in 1970. After the divorce, Barbara moved her two children into an apartment building near Woodward’s in Northgate.

On January 31, 1971 Barbara was set up on a blind date with Laurie Linaker. It turned out that, the very same month that Barbara had left John, Laurie's wife Laurel had passed away. On their first date, Laurie took Barbara to a cabaret in Busby, Alberta. This was the beginning of a whirlwind romance. Laurie was a family man, which caught Barbara’s attention. The two were married on April 10, 1971.

After they were married, the two households merged. Barbara and her children moved into Laurie’s three-bedroom, two-storey apartment with his three children, Darren, Kim, and Bradford. On September 7, 1971, Barbara and Laurie chose to move the family to an acreage just west of Millet. Laurie was a father figure for Barbara’s two children, who chose to use the Linaker last name.

For the first five years of their marriage, Barbara stayed at home until Kathleen started school. During those five years, Barbara remained busy. Her responsibilities included tending two large gardens, as well as caring for goats, cows, horses, and up to 500 chickens at a time. She also kept busy by sewing her own clothes, and most of her two daughters' clothes. She also made quilts for all of her children. Once Kathleen was in school, Barbara went back to work. She got a job at the Wetoka Health Unit, where she worked from 1977 until 1996. She started off by working as a business administrator.

Along with working at the health unit and raising five children, Barbara was heavily involved in the community. One group that Barbara worked with was the Millet and District Early Childhood Services; she was a member of the parent group that helped to launch the Kindergarten Class in Millet, she served as the Equipment Chair, and was also the school bus driver for the children who lived West of Millet. She used her own secondhand red-and-white Chevrolet that Laurie had purchased for her to bring children to and from school. 

Barbara was a part of both the Lions of Millet and the Lionesses of Millet. She was a Charter Member, President, and Director of the Lionesses. The Lionesses disbanded around 1992, at which point Barbara and many of the Lionesses joined the Lions, where she became a Club Historian, Director, and Chair of the Lions Scholarship Committee. As a member of the Scholarship Committee, Barbara assisted in reviewing applications for those who applied for the Lion’s Scholarship. Laurie was the coordinator for the Millet and District Lion’s Club Lion’s Youth Exchange. Barbara assisted him in coordinating homes for exchange students. The students that stayed at the Linaker’s home for the exchange became family to them. In 1990, they even got an invitation to a wedding in Australia for one of the girls that stayed with them, which Barbara and Laurie attended.  To this day Barbara still remains in contact with the students.

The United Church in Millet held a special place in Barbara’s heart. She was an active volunteer for the Church from 1976 until she moved to Manitoba in 2007. She taught Sunday school and organized picnics and hayrides. She participated in the World Day of Prayer and was a member of the United Church Choir. In addition, Barbara audited the United Church Women and Church Books.

Laurie and Barbara were both a part of the Seniors Home and Community Housing Committee. The couple attended meetings and made decisions in regards to several Seniors' lodging facilities in Millet, Wetaskiwin, and the surrounding area.

Barbara trained at the Wetaskiwin Toastmasters in order to make herself a qualified judge for speaking competitions. She used this skill when she became a judge for the Ward 4 Municipality local 4H Club speaking competitions.

During her time in Millet, Barbara also volunteered at the Millet Scout Association and the Millet Museum. She was a volunteer treasurer and auditor of the books at the Scout Association and she audited books at the Museum. She was even a model for many fashion shows at Butterfly Boutique.

From 2004 until 2007, Barbara was a town councilor for Millet. Throughout her term she was a part of various committees, such as the West Central Planning Agency and the Corporate Services Committee. The Millet Senior’s Club, the Wetaskiwin Ambulance Authority, and the West Dried Meat Lake Regional Landfill Authority were also groups that Barbara was a part of.

In 2007, Barbara and Laurie left Millet in order to be closer to family in Pilot Mound, Manitoba.  In 2014, Laurie passed away. Barbara remains active in her community by belonging to her church group. She is a member of a quilting group and continues to be a Lion’s member. She has a passion for genealogy and is a member of ancestry.com. She has tracked all of her family and has even assisted others in finding information out about their own families. She still has a passion for flower gardening and is known as the “flower girl” in her town.

Barbara has taught her children and grandchildren family sticks together through thick and thin. She has shown her family and Millet that sharing your wealth, knowledge and time with others is an invaluable part of life.