ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. - It's a story of a Tennessee man who wanted to make a difference in his community and honor his late wife's memory.
Richard and his wife Marilynn met back in junior high and begin dating seriously in their college years. The couple married in 1984 and just celebrated their 29th anniversary in November. But in February, Marilynn suddenly became very sick.
"She had an advanced pulmonary disease that really became very serious once she got in the hospital," says Richard.
He tells News 5 his wife never left the hospital once she was admitted. She died on March 16th and he knew that day he wanted to do something to memorialize her.
"She and I talked about we'd like to do something to help boost the program along and after she passed away I thought you know what I'm going to give a memorial gift in Marilynn's name to the project," adds Richard.
They decided to make a $15,000 donation to Elizabethton High School to help build a new football stadium and support sports programs but most importantly they want to help the Elizabethton Marching Band.
"She was in the band for four years," says Richard. "From '69 to '73 before she went to college and a very proud alumnus of the band."
Barker tells News 5 he's extremely humbled to make this donation in honor of his wife.
"I feel grateful to be able to give it to them... I really did. You have a really good feeling about yourself to accomplish something like that," says Richard.
And he hopes this piece of the project can help the school get a head start on the building process.
Barker presented the $15,000 donation at Tuesday's school board meeting and tells News 5 the entire board was really appreciative and very surprised. Barker says he thinks the new football stadium should be ready by the fall of 2015.
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