FORREST EDSON BARKER 1853-1914
- MM 1876, WM 1897-1899, Montacute
- Senior Grand Steward 1900
- Junior Grand Deacon 1901
- DDGM, Worcester 18, 1902, 1903
- Senior Grand Warden 1904
From Proceedings, Page 1914-388:
The sad news which came from Washington, D.C., on Nov. 21, 1914, notifying us of the sudden death of R.W. Forrest Edson Barker was a distinct shock to his many friends in every part of the jurisdiction. Brother Barker, apparently in his usual good health, was at Washington, D,C., when his summons came to join the innumerable caravan. He was sixty-one years of age, and no thought had come to any of us but that he would be spared for many years to continue the many lines of work in which he was so actively and so helpfully engaged.
Brother Barker, Son of Josiah G. Barker and Betsy (Kent) Barker, was born at Exeter, N.H., Sept. 29, 1853. When three years old he removed to Worcester with his parents, and was educated there in the public schools. He graduated from the Worcester Classical High School in 1870, and entered Wesleyan University at Middletown, Conn., where he graduated h 1874, valedictorian of his class, though unable to appear on the platform commencement day on account of illness. He began the study of law in the office of W. W. Rice & F. T. Blackmer, in Worcester, and attended the Boston University Law School, taking the two-year course in one. He was admitted to the bar in Worcester County in the spring of 1876.
He married, Aug. 11, 1881, Flora I. Hovey of Worcester, Mass., who survives him together with one son, Stanley G., and a daughter, Luliona M. Brother Barker followed his chosen profession until in 1885, when he was appointed for one year by Gov. George D. Robinson, a member of the original Gas Commission of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which is now known as the Board of Gas and Electric Light Commissioners. The work of this board has been in new fields and Brother Barker became such an expert that he was recognized throughout the country as an authority on matters pertaining to his line of work. In 1886 he was reappointed for three years, and held the office by successive reappointments to the time of his decease, serving continuously as its chairman since 1894. He went, abroad in the summer of 1892 in his official capacity to study the problems of public lighting in foreign countries. In 1896 he was in Europe again on a similar errand, and again in 1900 and 1905. This last trip was made for special inquiries ordered by the general court of the Commonwealth. The fact that for nearly thirty years Brother Barker continued upon this important State board and presided over it for twenty years, regardless of the political party in control of State affairs, speaks in the highest terms of his capacity, impartiality and executive ability in carrying on the work of a commission which became more and more important each year.
Brother Barker was a Republican in politics. He served six years on the Worcester School Board and two years (1883 and 1884) as representative to the general court from Worcester. He served on various campaign committees of the Republican Party, and was for a time chairman of the Congressional District Committee.
Brother Barker was elected Senior Grand Warden of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts at its Annual Communication in 1903, having been previously honored by appointments as Senior Grand Steward in 1900, Junior Grand Deacon in 1901 and District Deputy Grand Master of the Eighteenth Masonic District in 1902 and 1903. In 1911 he became an active member of the Board of Masonic Relief. He was a member of the Worcester Masonic Charity and Educational Association which corporation recently erected the beautiful Masonic Temple in Worcester. He served Montacute Lodge as its Master in 1898 and 1899; presided over Eureka Royal Arch Chapter as its High Priest in 1888 and 1889, and held the office of Thrice Illustrious Master of Hiram Council of Royal and Select Masters in 1896 and 1897. He was elected as Most Illustrious Grand Master of the Grand Couneil of Royal and Select Masters of Massachusetts in which position he rendered faithful and efficient service to the Cryptic Rite during the years 1903, 1904 and 1905. He was knighted in Boston Commandery No. 2, June 18, 1890.
Brother Barker was also actively interested in the Scottish Rite, serving Worcester Lodge of Perfection as its Thrice Potent Master during the years 1893 and 1894. He also served Goddard Council, Princes of Jerusalem, as its Sovereign Prince during the years 1897, 1898, 1899 and 1900. He was perhaps better known to the Brethren of Boston and vicinity through his connections with the Massachusetts Consistory, which body he served as its Second Lieutenant-Commander in the year 1908. His rare abilities and valuable service were recognized by his election to the Thirty-third Degree, which he received Oct. 1, 1912.
It is true that the world goes on about the same as ever as each in turn lays down his earthly work and passes into the higher life. Yet the absence of Brother Barker will be keenly felt both in fraternal and business circles on account of the range of his activities. Surely it was a privilege to have known and to have been associated with him, and not only has our little world been made better through the fruits of his labor but the future lives of all of us who knew him will be continually refreshed and encouraged,by the memory of his careful attention to his appointed duties, his unfailing love and devotion to his Fraternity, and that lovable and wholesome social spirit and leadership which brought him the host of friends who now mourn him, and are hardly willing to believe that we shall meet him here no more.
"God giveth quietness at last,
The common way that all must pass
He went - with mortal yearnings fond,
To fuller live and love bevond."
Albro A. Osgood,
Austin A. Heath,
Arthur L. Stone.
From Pipeline & Gas Journal, Vol 101, Page 365, December 7, 1914:
"On Saturday, Nov. 21, 1914, Forrest E. Barker, Chairman of the Board, died suddenly in Washington, D. C, while in attendance, in his official capacity, upon the annual convention of the National Association of Railway Commissioners.
"His associates on the Board deem it a duty on this, his funeral day, to spread on the Board's records, their testimonial to his steadfast loyalty, unfailing courtesy, patient and engaging consideration for the rights and views of his fellow members, to his almost matchless power in discussing with them the difficult and ever-fogged problems of public service regulation to illuminate the road to what was workable and just, and thereby to render a great service to consumers, investors and the Commonwealth; but, and above all, their testimonial to his inborn, ever calm and sweet modesty.
"Mr. Barker, while a member from Worcester of the General Court of 1885, drafted, introduced and carried through the Legislature the bill creating the Board, the first tribunal of its kind in the history of the country, for the regulation and supervision of gas and electric light companies. Upon the passage of the Act he became a member of the Board and served continuously up to the time of his death, the last 20 years as its chairman. Without derogation to the memory of his early associates, it may be said in all truth that from the outset his was the master spirit, and that he, with his wide, clear vision, projected the Board's course, and, like a true pilot, held it on its way to the port of sane, intelligent efficiency. And in accomplishing this he, without chart or compass for there were no precedents—announced principles in the Board's decisions so elementary and fundamental as to be generally accepted by the courts and commissions as sound in law and satisfying to the universal sense of justice. His accurate and thorough knowledge of the law, and his equally accurate and thorough knowledge of the technical and business details of the public utilities under the Board's supervision, enabled him to grasp the delicate and complicated problems arising from their relations to municipalities and the people, and to bring to their solution constructive work of a high and enduring order which has had, we are convinced, the approval and appreciation, not only of the great body of consumers and investors in the securities of our public service corporations, and all directorates that have at heart the welfare of their community as well as their companies, but also that larger public who of late years has exibited such a vital and intelligent interest in the proper regulation of public utilities. In the achievement of all this to the benefit of consumers and the safety of investors, his associates look back over the work under his leadership, carried on at times under great stress, hostile and malicious agitation, with pride and with tender personal satisfaction.
"Barker! silent, deep thinker; steady, courageous pilot; master builder of a wise public policy for a proud Commonwealth; all hail and farewell!"
From Electrical World, Vol. 64, Page 1037, November 28, 1914:
Death of Chairman Barker
"Chairman Forrest E. Barker, of the Massachusetts Gas and Electric Light Commission, died suddenly at Washington, D. C, on Nov. 20, while in attendance upon the convention of the National Association of Railway Commissioners. Accompanied by Mrs. Barker, he had been away from Boston for about a week, and while his health had not been good for some time, his death was unexpected and was a great shock to his associates. Mr. Barker was born in Exeter, N. H., in 1853, was graduated from Wesleyan University, Connecticut, in 1874, and later took up the study of law at the Boston University Law School. After being admitted to the bar, he practised law in Worcester, Mass., serving on the school board and representing his district in the Legislature in 1883-4. He was also at one time chairman of the Republican Congressional district committee and from early manhood was prominent in Masonic circles, having attained the thirty-third degree and held many honors in affiliated fraternal organizations.
"In 1885 he was appointed a member of the Gas and Electric Light Commission by Governor Robinson of Massachusetts, the board having just been created by the Legislature along the lines of a bill drafted by Mr. Barker himself. The regulation of these utilities was then in its infancy, and in the pioneer days of the commission Mr. Barker rendered invaluable service to the State, becoming chairman of the board in 1894 after nine years of fundamental and painstaking effort to establish and maintain a constructive policy which should be just to the public and the companies alike. Of a conservative temper of mind, he was thoroughly alive to the progress of the great industries under his supervision and responsive to the needs of the consumer and the welfare of the general public. All through his chairmanship Mr. Barker strove to administer justice with conscientious and unsparing labor, and while his mind was of the deliberate type, it worked with great precision and adhered with the utmost tenacity to decisions reached. It is to a large extent due to him that the policies and decisions of the commission have been extraordinarily free from inconsistencies; that the board has been growing stronger year by year in its grasp of the important problems placed before it, and that its acts have been sustained and reinforced by the courts and the Legislature. That the commission was not abolished at the time of the creation of the Public Service Commission in 1913 was in no small part due to the years of devoted service and wise direction given by Mr. Barker in his responsible office.
"In speaking of Mr. Barker, Gen. Morris Schaff, associated with him on the board since 1893, expressed the heavy loss which the commission has sustained and said that the late chairman was the ablest man with whom he had ever had the privilege of working; that he was the wise counselor of many other commonwealths in relation to public utility regulation, unswerving in his loyalty to the cause of right as he saw it and, while slow to reach a conclusion, possessed of a comprehensive grasp of the needs of the companies and the public, and firm in the support of his convictions. Both the companies and the public owe the deceased commissioner more than is realized, the former having extraordinary confidence in his sympathetic understanding, which also was not wanting in his treatment of the latter. Commissioner Weed also spoke feelingly of the board's affliction and commented upon the judicial qualifications of his late associate and the soundness of his views. Gov. David I. Walsh of Massachusetts said that in the death of Mr. Barker the State has lost its ablest commissioner, and that as chief executive he had enjoyed the closest and most friendly relations with the late chairman, valuing his counsel upon every phase of commission work and relying upon him in many other ways, although the two were of different political faiths. Few if any of the Governor's advisers possessed his confidence to a greater degree and none had greater capacity in investigating and reporting upon the advantages and drawbacks of specific policies. The Governor said: Mr. Barker loved the work, he was 'always on the job,' he was endowed with a peculiarly judicial mind, never giving offhand opinions, and he was a constructive thinker and administrator whose abilities were ever at the service of the State and whose counsel was of the greatest value in shaping legislation.
"President Charles L. Edgar, of the Edison Electric Illuminating Company of Boston, said that in his opinion Mr. Barker was the best-posted man on public service in the country; that in twenty-five years' association with him relations of close personal friendship had come about between the two, and that the chairman's death is a heavy loss to the State and to the companies. Mr. Edgar said that Mr. Barker was entirely competent to run a public utility from the company end, that he was absolutely straight in every detail of his official life, and that he possessed the confidence of the public no less than of the companies, although his work was quietly done, many of his best activities being employed in the informal adjustment of matters brought to his attention.
"Mr. Everett W. Burdett, general counsel of the National Electric Light Association, said: The death of Mr. Barker is a serious loss both to the public service and to the lighting interests of Massachusetts. By reason of his long experience, his laborious and untiring studies, his infinite patience and his native ability he had long been the best equipped public service official in the State. While his methods were laborious and his processes sometimes circuitous, his conclusions were usually sound. I think one word more fitly expresses his leading characteristic than any other, and that word is 'wisdom.' Mr. Barker was wise in a large sense. He recognized both the reasonable demands of the public and the legitimate rights of the corporations. He held the scales so evenly that the contending interests with which he dealt usually came to recognize the propriety of his actions and the fairness of his decisions, however much they may have experienced the temporary sting of defeat.
"Mr. A. Stuart Pratt, of the Stone & Webster Management Association, Boston, Mass., said that Stone & Webster learned with sincere regret of Mr. Barker's death. The commission was the first in the United States to cover this class of public service; the experiment was approved by the people and served as a model which has been followed in many other states. Mr. Barker became a member of the board as a young man and had been largely responsible for its policy ever since. His wise counsel was a great benefit to legislature after legislature both in shaping good legislation and in suppressing bad. For a comparatively small salary he made his lifework the service of the State. Honest and conscientious always, he held the esteem of those who came in contact with him. By his death the people suffer a serious loss, as no matter how able may be the man who takes his place, the knowledge which Mr. Barker had acquired by his long years of service in respect to conditions both within and without the companies can be attained by no man except after similar years of arduous work.
"Mr. A. B. Tenney, of C. H. Tenney & Company, Boston, also expressed a keen sense of the loss to the State which has come in the closing of Mr. Barker's life and spoke appreciatively of his painstaking, conscientious devotion to the duties of his office."