The George and Virginia Rowland Barker Scholarship

by Billy Chandler

The George and Virginia Rowland Barker Scholarship
George Barker, E&H Class of 1960
Virginia Rowland Barker, E&H Class of 1959

Some names are seldom spoken solo: they seem to come in pairs. For more than half a century, “George and Ginny” were those kinds of names.

Both Virginia kids, George was from Damascus and Ginny grew up in Narrows. They met at Emory & Henry and bonded over the sort of things you would expect from popular kids: sports, mutual friends, a cool car. But smiles and lingering glances turned into love, and the pair were married in 1959, shortly before George graduated.

George played professional baseball for a time – signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and staying with the organization after the team moved to Los Angeles. He was a relief pitcher for ten years, and he and Ginny loved taking their children and spending time at spring training every year in Vero Beach.

The couple had three children, each of whom graduated from Emory & Henry (Chip ’83, Cindy ’84, and Chris ’91).

Ginny supported George through a long career in sales, and then the two teamed up with their skills as they launched a coal brokering business together.

They have been important volunteers for their alma mater and for the community. They served together on the E&H Parents Council. Ginny served as a trustee for the college and Holston Conference colleges, and was a member of numerous selection committees for new E&H coaches and presidents. George served as chairman of the Board of Visitors, E&H Sports Hall of Fame selection committee and supported the E&H baseball team as a volunteer coach. They were also community volunteers. George was a decorated volunteer for the local chapter of Boy Scouts of America, earning the coveted Silver Beaver and the Pioneer Awards.

Ginny has been a leader on the Antiques Committee of the Virginia Highlands Festival, Random Arts, Booklovers, and an active member of the Abingdon Garden Club, where she has held numerous leadership positions including chairman of the much-loved Historic Abingdon Garden Tour. They both have been active members of Abingdon United Methodist Church.

George passed away in 2012, but Ginny has continued their legacy of service by maintaining active roles in community and college leadership. In 2018, she was awarded the Fred Selfe Service to Emory & Henry Award to recognize a lifetime of outstanding leadership and personal sacrifice.

The George and Virginia Rowland Barker Scholarship was established by the duo as a way to bring financial assistance to students who choose Emory & Henry as their college home. Emory & Henry is the place that officially launched “George and Ginny,” and this scholarship was designed to support these young people as they begin a new chapter in their own lives.

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