On July 12, 2017, we honored former Executive Director Lester R. Barker by dedicating the Activities Center to him. This historical moment marked the first time in our 45 years of operation that we named a building after anyone. We send a special ‘thank you’ to the Barker family for your contributions to this publication.
Organizations, institutions, and governments sometimes name buildings after people, living or dead, to commemorate how their lives have contributed to the arts, advanced human knowledge, or made other contributions to humanity.
So it was that, on July 12, 2017, John Knox Village leaders gathered with residents to celebrate the dedication of the campus’ Activity Center as the “Lester R. Barker Center.” Les, who served as JKV’s executive director for 25 years, left a strong legacy.
“He was the driving force behind the construction of this building,” Executive Director Joe Trainor noted in his opening comments, “He was the motivator behind the growth of this community, the building of the Majestic Oaks Continuing Care Complex and the Oak Park Senior Services Center, and our being debt-free.”
Les’ vision was to create a resort-like atmosphere with the highest standards of customer service, where the delivery of healthcare services would be based on an individual plan of care with compassion and expertise.
The naming of this building signifies Les Barker’s unique role in JKV’s past and future. He oversaw the campus expansion from 78 to 170 acres, along with an expansion of services and programs, including the building of the Activity Center.
“We will forever be in his debt for releasing us from the burdens of our community’s financial woes,” Trainor noted, adding, “Instead, we get to focus on looking to the future.”
Four of the people who worked most closely with Les joined Joe Trainor in celebrating the Barker legacy: Joe Rudolph, director of planning and development; Jerry Jaques, president and CEO of Riverwood Retirement Management; Taver Cornett, chairman of the board of directors of John Knox Village; and Ken Behnke, director of operations. Each addressed some aspect of Les Barker’s leadership, vision, and legacy. Sharon Barker, wife of Les Barker and a current resident, participated in the occasion as well, along with the rest of Les’ family.
Capping off the event, Gary Blair, mayor of Orange City, presented a proclamation from the city to acknowledge the naming of the Lester R. Barker Center.