Obituary: Willie Greenwood Barker, Jr., 81, Vero Beach

Willie Greenwood "Bill" Barker, Jr.
Willie Greenwood "Bill" Barker, Jr.

VERO BEACH – Willie Greenwood “Bill” Barker, Jr., 81, of Vero Beach, took his final tee time on Monday, March 26, 2018, in Danville, Va., following a brief illness. He was born to Willie Greenwood and Janie Talley Barker on Feb. 21, 1937.

Bill was an ambitious businessman with a knack for making things happen. He was president and COO of Dibrell Brothers Inc. and was former Director of the Board for American National Bank. He became a prominent international tobacco businessman for Dibrell in Brazil and Canada. When he retired, he became co-owner of Piedmont-Big Sale Warehouse and founded Cherokee Tobacco Company with his son, Jay.

Bill spent many of the last 19 years in Vero Beach with his wife, Sue. The couple enjoyed golfing, boating, and spending time with friends. He was a member of the Danville Golf Club, The Water’s Edge Country Club at Smith Mountain Lake, and Grand Harbor Golf and Beach Club in Vero Beach.

He was also a member of the German Club, the Young Men’s Club, and Semora United Methodist Church. He was a proud member of the National Guard and enjoyed sharing stories from his time serving his country.

Although retired, Bill continued to be a vital part of his businesses with his son, Jay. He enjoyed returning to Danville to see his children and grandchildren.

His voice and his ability to captivate people with his storytelling will never be forgotten. This past Christmas, the family enjoyed sitting at the dinner table listening to him tell stories from his past and those that had gone on before him. The family will cherish these times spent with Bill.

Bill is survived by his wife of 37 years, Sue Barker; son, Jay Edward Barker (girlfriend, Ashley Herndon), of Danville, Va.; daughter, Lori Barker Smith (husband, Rory), of Semora; grandchildren, Stuart Smith (wife, Giseli), of Danville, Cayla Barker, of Charlotte, Thomas Barker, of Danville, and Madi Barker, of Danville; great-granddaughter, Sophie Smith, of Danville; brother, Maurice Barker (wife, Carolyn), of Milton; nephews, Cecil Barker Jr. (wife, Renee), of Semora, and Lee Barker (wife, Sheila) of Milton; and nieces, Jennifer Renee Barker, of Semora, and Jane Sylvester (husband, Artie), of Cary.

In addition to his parents, Bill was predeceased by his son, Willie Greenwood Barker, affectionately referred to by Bill as “Little Billy;” and his brother, Cecil Barker Sr.

A celebration of life will be held Friday, March 30, at 11 a.m. at Townes Funeral Home in Danville, Va. The service will be officiated by the Rev. Bart Fletcher with the eulogy given by Gary McBride.

Military Honors will be by the Virginia Army National Guard. Burial will follow at Danville Memorial Gardens.

In lieu of flowers and food, memorials may be made to the Danville Life Saving Crew, 202 Christopher Lane, Danville, VA 24541.

Pallbearers will be Harry Lea, AB Cassada, Peyton Green, Tim Cobb, Cecil Barker Jr., Dale Powell, Joe Millehan, and Jason Paine.

Townes Funeral Home is serving the Barker family. Online condolences may be made at

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About Andy Hodges
Andy Hodges grew up in Jupiter, Florida where he began his career in radio and TV broadcasting for over 12 years. He would make a career change to computer programming. Andy spent seven years working for tech companies in Atlanta before moving to Indian River County in 2002. He returned to the news sector in 2005 as a writer. Andy joined Sebastian Daily in 2016 as our editor in chief.