George P. Barker was a retired Howard County attorney who was an avid kayaker.
George P. Barker was a retired Howard County attorney who was an avid kayaker. (HANDOUT)

George P. Barker, a retired Howard County attorney who was an avid kayaker, died Friday of complications from vascular disease at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Columbia. He was 76.

The son of Francis Meserve Barker, an investment banker, and Marion Dushane Penniman Bartlett, a homemaker, George Penniman Barker was born in Baltimore and raised in the city's Poplar Hill neighborhood.


He graduated in 1957 from the Gilman School, where he wrestled, played basketball and lacrosse. He then earned a bachelor's degree in 1961 from Princeton University.

In 1962, he married his high school sweetheart, Anne VandeGrift, who had been a Bryn Mawr School student.

After serving in the Army, he obtained his law degree in 1966 from Columbia University, and served as a clerk for U.S. District Judge Harold R. Tyler of the Southern District of New York.

Mr. Barker practiced law in New York City and Boston before moving in 1972 to Columbia when he was named associate general counsel and assistant secretary for the Rouse Co.

Family members said Mr. Barker believed deeply in the goal of Columbia's founders of creating a city for people of various backgrounds.

He left the Rouse Co. in 1979 when he became general counsel of the Enterprise Development Co., and later for Howard County General Hospital.

At the time of his retirement in 2006, he was serving as senior general counsel for Martek Biosciences in Columbia.

In retirement, Mr. Barker remained active as a legal consultant to several biotech firms and for urban planning efforts in Columbia. He was involved in supporting the city's Inner Arbor plan to transform Columbia's Symphony Woods park into a natural arts hub, family members said.

He was a member of the board of Howard County General Hospital, the Columbia Foundation, the Foreign Information and Referral Network, and Hospice Services of Howard County Inc.

The 44-year resident of Columbia enjoyed biking on the city's paths, kayaking in Maine and New Hampshire, and traveling. He was also an Orioles and Ravens fan.

Services are private.

In addition to his wife of 53 years, Mr. Barker is survived by a son, Van Barker of San Diego; two daughters, Kate Barker Swindell of Portland, Ore., and Maggie Barker Taylor of Gladwyne, Pa.; and six grandchildren.

— Frederick N. Rasmussen