Goatview Farm - The Saint Report www.goatview.com

December 12

Bob Barker - The Mystery

There is more to Bob Barker than meets the eye, but unfortunately it probably will never surface. He was born in Darrington, Washington, for instance. Darrington is a logging town where people were still packing pistols twenty years ago (could still be for all I know). It was the real wild west when Bob was born. In fact, giving birth there qualifies his mother as a pioneer woman of the first water.

Second, his childhood was primarily spent on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, where his mother taught school--another sign of her indomitable spirit. Who WAS this woman?

Her name was Matilda ("Tilly") Valandra, but Bob's original name was Robert William Barker. Was Matilda married to a Valandra prior to going to South Dakota? Valandra is an unusual name, but it isn't unusual on the Rosebud Reservation. Was Matilda either divorced or widowed when she moved to South Dakota, later marrying a tribal member? The biography states that Bob went to high school in Missouri so the family moved eventually.

Everyone is aware of Bob Barker's love for animals, and he attributes it largely to the influence of his mother. What is the story there?

I must admit that prior to doing this digging, I thought Bob Barker was uninteresting since I am neither a fan of the Miss USA Pageant nor The Price is Right. In fact, the best thing about Bob was the fact that Lynda Barry's ancient poodle was named Bob Barker. Now, however, I am terribly curious.

Update:

I received the following today (September 26, 2002):

Dear Marilyn:

Hopefully I can shed some light on some of the questions you've raised concerning Mr. Bob Barker and most notably his mother-Matilda Valandra. First her maiden name is Matilda Kent Tarleton and was born on October 20,1899. She first married Byron John Barker who passed away when Bob was six years old in 1929. After spending time with various relatives, "Tilly" as she was called went back to South Dakota where she had graduated from South Dakota State, became a teacher and later Superintendent for Todd County schools while at the Rosebud Indian Reservation. She published a history primer for South Dakota schools called "Our State" which was used in the school system from the 1930s to the early 1960s.

In 1936 she was married to Charles Valandra and the family moved to Springfield, Missouri. Bob has a half-brother named Kent and it was at Springfield High School (in 1939) that Bob hooked up with Dorothy Jo Gideon (Barker). When Mr. Valandra passed away in the 1970s, Matilda lived with Bob in an attached guest house until her passing in 1993 at the age of 94. Dorothy Jo passed away on October 19,1981 of lung cancer. Bob formed the DJ&T Foundation in their honor in 1995 which helps defray costs for spay/neuter clinics throughout the nation as both loved animals as well as Mr. Barker. Hopes this helps fill in the gaps.

It helps, but it doesn't answer all of the questions. Bob Barker sure had an interesting, admirable, and accomplished mother, that much is certain. Oh, and that the apple didn't fall far from the tree--that's true, too.

***

Saints celebrating feast days today include Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Saint Epimachus Alexander and Companions, Saint Finnian of Clonard, Saint Corentin or Cury, Saint Edburga, and Saint Vicelin.

Celebrating birthdays today: Mayim Bialik (1975), Bob Barker (1923).

 

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Marilyn Jones 2000-2008