Mark Victor Barber

mark  barber
Born March 22, 1962 in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Mark was the son of the late Edward and Jean Barber.

Mark’s passion for sailing developed at an early age, when his mother Jean and Aunt Phyllis taught him how to sail at a local lake. At 13 he spent the summer mowing grass and painting houses to save for his first sailboat, nicknamed “The Bathtub”, as it was about that size.

While interning at NASA during his college years, he towed his upgraded sailboat from New Castle, Pennsylvania to Hampton Roads, Virginia behind his tiny MG. When love of his family back East and new employment called him from San Diego to Northern Virginia he towed his latest sailboat across country behind an 80’s Dodge Lancer, breaking down as the car overheated in the desert of New Mexico, refusing to leave his boat behind. Throughout the remainder of his life he continued to buy larger and larger sailboats, eventually owning his beloved 23.5 foot 1993 Hunter, nicknamed “Joe”, that was his pride and joy. He would go sailing as early in the year as he could, not winterizing the boat until the last possible moment each fall. Outside of his family, nothing brought him greater joy than to be on the water with the wind in his sails, his hand on the tiller and his eyes pointed towards the horizon.

Mark received his Bachelors of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Cincinnati in 1985 and promptly went to work at General Dynamics in San Diego. Throughout his career he worked on rockets, satellites, the International Space Station and unmanned drones for the Defense Department, to name just a few. Mark’s career as an aerospace engineer was inspired by his witnessing the first lunar landing as a wide-eyed, awe-struck seven-year old on July 16, 1969. From this, his love of rocketry took off. Many a child in New Castle delighted at his early attempts to send a rocket into orbit. Those early attempts at rocketry sometimes resulted in the misdirection of the rocket, sending the neighborhood children running as the rocket chased them around his backyard. Mark was not deterred. There was his epic attempt at building a three stage rocket from scratch where two of the three stages again chased everyone around the yard (including dumping Mark over a picnic table), AND leaving an unexploded payload in the neighbor’s yard that Mark doused with the neighbor’s garden hose. That experience prompted him use the computer room at the high school to write a program that would help him calculate the centers of thrust and gravity for future models.

Mark met his wife Karen of 28 years on June 30, 1992 (and yes, she remembers the exact date). Naturally, for their first date they were to go sailing, but the day dawned rainy and cold. They discovered their mutual love of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” that day, and watched the movie instead. Karen will admit, from that moment on, she was “hooked”. On their first Christmas together Mark surprised her with tickets to Europe, eager to share his love of travel. Between his gorgeous blue eyes, his warmth, kindness, generosity and ability to always make her laugh she really stood no chance. Married on April 30, 1994, together they built a life full of love, laughter and joy.

Mark was an amazing father to his children Adam and Emily. He provided much needed math expertise as the children went through school, never complaining when either asked for his help. He learned the names of all the Pokémon, conversing with Adam on the subject regularly whenever Adam wished to do so, often at the dinner table. An avid Steelers fan, he and Adam would regularly spend time watching football games together. He was enormously proud of Emily and her academic accomplishments, including her 4.0 GPA while earning her Masters Degree in International Relations and Global Security. Mark and Emily shared a love of traveling and cherished their time together while abroad.

Mark was a remarkable handy-man, volunteering his time on the Property Committee at his Church, always offering to fix any property issue, whether large or small. His expertise in a wide variety of home improvement subjects made him a valuable asset they won’t easily be able to replace. He took great pride in his extensive collection of power tools (what man doesn’t?) and made sure they each had good homes before he passed away.

After a courageous battle with multiple myeloma, he passed away at home on October 2, 2022, surrounded by his loved ones.

He is survived by his wife Karen, their children Adam and Emily, along with his sister Valerie Yuran, her husband Paul, and his cousins Kathy Aven, Douglas Lach, and Maureen Passifume. Mark had many nieces, nephews and in laws, who are too numerous to mention.

He will be sorely missed at home, and not just for his willingness to kill bugs in the house, fix anything that was broken, provide expert tech support and most importantly make everyone who loved him laugh. His dry sense of humor did not abandon him, even in the end – requesting of Karen that he be given a Viking funeral, flaming arrow and all. It was only her concern for the Coast Guard’s sure displeasure that prevented her from granting him his wish (well, maybe…stay tuned.)

In lieu of flowers the family requests you make a donation in Mark’s name to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at

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Memories Timeline


  1. It is not often that a pastor draws inspiration from a dying parishioner. I was so blessed by Mark’s deep sense of his heavenly destiny that it now makes my message on eternal life more real. He is already missed by the entire congregation at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church and we look forward to reuniting with him in the eternal kingdom of God.
    Pastor Elijah Mwitanti

  2. Q: What will you never forget about Mark ?

    A: Mark could fix anything. He was a member of the Prperty Committee at Christ Lutheran Church in Fairfax. The church was of a certain age and had been modified and expanded several times over the years. It had never benefited from a planned maintenance program. In addition, the church owns two houses, located on church property, which suffer the same lack of comprehensive maintenance.

    Not a problem. Weather it was HVAC, plumbing, electrical, carpentry or masonry, Mark could do it all. I will miss him as a friend and equally as someone with a skill set that made life easier for those of us who shared responsibility at the church to “fix stuff.”

  3. Mark was the consummate teammate. Also willing to stay and work out issues and plans as needed even at risk of interrupting a family or social commitment. It was a joy and a pleasure to work with you. Rest in peace.

  4. Karen, Adam, and Emily: we never met but I worked with Mark around 2014 when we were moving our work sustainment team from Colorado to Riverdale, MD Mark was backfilling for me so we spent a lot of time together. Mark talked a lot about raising Adam and Emily. My nephew is autistic and our family also had to fight to get the best services for him. He talked a lot about how tireless you were advocating for your son. My daughters were also involved in marching band, and Mark talked about Emily choosing between color guard and playing an instrument. My youngest will be moving to Cincinnati to work for P&G next fall. Mark was soft spoken but he was warm, smart, and always insightful. He will be missed by his work family.

  5. Back in 2014, I was coming off a very rough time in my life with being laid off. I started work on the JPSS program with Mark and others. Mark became a very good collogue and friend. He helped me adjust back into work life and helped me with the stress of working JPSS. We had many impromptu meetings in my office. When I moved to Dulles and worked on the CCS program, Mark came also. I will always remember our morning and late afternoon sit-downs in his office where we talked about what was coming up on the weekends to what we were going to do on the program. I will miss Mark greatly.

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