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David Read Barker



Memorial Contributions: 


Operation Clearwater, AACC Foundation

 101 College Parkway, Arnold, MD 21012



Lake Champlain Committee

 208 Flynn Avenue, Building 3, Studio 3F

Burlington, VT  05401





 Trijang Buddhist Institute

 210 Morning Star Lane

Northfield, VT 05663


David Read Barker, 77, died on May 13, 2022, after contracting the coronavirus. He was born on May 15, 1944, in Boston, MA, the oldest son of Stephen and Eileen “Sis” Smith Barker. David graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with honors. He then joined the Peace Corps as a volunteer as part of the first rural development project in Africa, in Sierra Leone, 1965-1967. David went on to get a Ph.D. in Anthropology from New School University in N.Y.C. For his doctoral dissertation research, he conducted fieldwork with Tibetan refugees in Nepal and India and translated a ritual text under the supervision of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. He traveled extensively during his 40-year career in international development, touching numerous lives along the way. With two colleagues, David co-founded Management Systems International, a management consulting company based in Washington, D.C. He was a consultant to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Bank, and numerous other bilateral and multilateral aid agencies. In the 1980s, David was a diplomat for the U.N. Development Program, serving as deputy residential representative in both Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1987-1989, and Jakarta, Indonesia, 1985-1987.

He met Lisa Borre, his wife of 24 years, while they were working together on Lake Toba, Indonesia, and in 1998, the couple established LakeNet, a world lakes network. When David, an avid sailor, retired in 2005, the couple embarked on an 8.5-year voyage aboard Gyatso, a 37-foot sailboat, sailing to the Caribbean, across the Atlantic Ocean, and throughout the Mediterranean and Black Seas. They co-authored a sailing guide, The Black Sea, published by Imray and the Royal Cruising Club Pilotage Foundation. David was a resident of Annapolis, MD for 25-years, and in his retirement, he became the founding president of the Back Creek Conservancy, which later merged with the Severn River Association where he served as president, 2019-2020. He led the transition of the oldest river organization in the country from an all-volunteer group to one with professional staff and a robust volunteer water quality monitoring program. David recently moved to Michigan where he enjoyed time at a summer cottage on Beaver Island and at his home near the Flat River.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his father-in-law, Glen Borre. David is survived by his wife; daughters, Andi Barker of Leonardtown, MD, and Susan Barker (Greg Simmons) of Rockville, MD; six grandchildren (Morgan, Dharma, Grant, Sebastian, Dean and Olivia); brother, James (Susan Hong) Barker of Charlotte, VT; sister, Jennifer Barker of Salisbury, VT; mother-in-law, Betsy Borre of Grand Rapids, MI; sister-in-law, Suze (Jon) Bonadeo of Beaver Island, MI; brother-in-law, Bill (Jill) Borre of Lake Leelanau, MI; and numerous nieces and nephews. His family and friends are planning private services in Maryland, Michigan, and Vermont. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Operation Clearwater, AACC Foundation, 101 College Parkway, Arnold, MD 21012 http://(; Lake Champlain Committee, 208 Flynn Avenue, Building 3, Studio 3F, Burlington, VT  05401 http://(; or the Trijang Buddhist Institute, 210 Morning Star Lane, Northfield, VT 05663 (

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13 Responses

  1. It was a pleasure to have known him. He was a great adventurer.

  2. I so enjoyed getting to know David, he was smart, adventuresome, and interesting to talk with. We followed his and Lisa’s travels around the world on Gyatso and I enjoyed reading his book about his Peace Corp experiences…we were looking forward to showing him around West Michigan, and are so sorry for Lisa, especially after recently losing her dad…a sad time for the Borre family.

  3. What an incredibly full and rich life David had. He obviously cared about the state of the world and worked to help alleviate the many problems in the developing world. As a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone, I am so grateful to him for editing and publishing Volunteers in the African Bush How wonderful that David was able to retire early enough to enjoy many incredible years sailing.

  4. Serving with David in Sierra Leone was the beginning of a long and occasional friendship as life took us in our various directions. I visited David in in Annapolis some years ago and we rekindled our mutual interests and discussed his goal of a book celebrating our Sierra Leone Peace Corps community development efforts, which thanks to David’s efforts was published.

    His interest in and service to international issues and to benefiting nature and the environment suggest to us who he was — a global thinker with respect for all.

  5. David was a rare combination of intelligence, kindness and generosity. If a life lived is a form of art, he managed a masterpiece.

  6. Great person with great contributions for the developing world and for water sector, he will live forever in minds and hearts of all people he benefited and touched!

  7. I got to know David during the great second act of his life – his years with Lisa – and was always touched by their obvious connection, support, and love for one another. Their Gyatso voyage was so emblematic of the way David lived his life, free, fearless and always ready for the next adventure. Plus, it was so cool to tell people, hey, we have friends who actually did sail around the world!

    Although we did not get together as frequently as we would have liked, I always looked forward to those occasions when we did. David had a vast working knowledge of the world and there were few subjects he could not converse about with understanding. Never a dull moment in talking with him.

    As others on this guest book have noted, David shone kindness and regard for other people in everything he said and did. He was realistic, but never cynical or defeatist about the human condition.

    Whether it was lakes, politics, or the larger journey of life itself … David always believed things could and would get better. He did his own part, and then some, to make it so. He was a wonderful man and a wonderful friend and I will miss him.

  8. Even though I did not know David long I was immediately drawn to his gentle spirit and adventurous personality.
    He do not let aphasia slow him down.
    Even though I was his stroke mentor, I learn so much from him that made me a more rounded person!
    He will be missed and my heart goes out to Lisa and his family. Sending peace and love.

  9. I had no idea of his passing! Thanks to Stephen Bingham for letting us all know! I only knew Davis through our training for Sierra Leone and through helping to edit the book he published including stories of each of our experiences in Sierra Leone, which was a fun journey back 50 years!

  10. A nobile spirit, and incredibly sensitive friend. David gave me the biggest compliment I’ll ever receive in this lifetime, and will work hard to merit his belief in the harmony of all things. Thank you David and Lisa.

  11. I am writing on behalf of the DC Tergar Practice Group. We knew David for a short time as a devoted practitioner and wise man.

    We are all saddened by his passing

  12. I was a partner of David’s in international development and admired his knowledge and ability as a “can do” guy. He had much to give and gave it away with grace.

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