John Algird Barkus 1944 - 2022

John Algird Barkus, 78, passed away October 12, 2022, in Newberg, Oregon.

John was born January 10, 1944, in Harvey, Illinois, to parents Jack and Bertha Barkus. John, with his younger sister, Mariona, grew up in Willow Springs, Illinois, where his parents owned a store. As a child, John worked in the store, spent time tinkering with motors and woodworking in the basement, and walking in the surrounding woods. He went on to study English at Northwestern University.

In 1966, John moved west to Claremont, California, where he pursued graduate studies in English literature at Claremont Graduate University. Focusing on 18th century literature and the poetry of William Blake, he earned a master’s degree and met his future wife, Martha Goodrich. In 1971, they moved together to Forest Grove, Oregon.

In Oregon, John worked as a woodworker, a carpenter, a sign-painter and a chef. He appreciated the Northwest forests, especially, at the end of his life, the Galen McBee Airport Park, where he would walk the one-mile loop and stop to rest on its shady benches.

John was a contemplative person who focused inward, often sharing with loved ones his active cultivation of gratitude for life. He shared his affection and glimpses of himself through his cooking (his grandchildren always requested Grandpa’s “birthday bread”).

John was an enthusiastic lifelong patron of libraries. In the last several years of his life, he enjoyed the poetry of Mary Oliver and Ted Kooser, often referencing Braided Creek, a collection of letters between Ted Kooser and Jim Harrison.

John is survived by his sister, Mariona Barkus of Los Angeles; his daughter and son-in-law, Rosa and Jose Klein of Portland; and grandchildren, Manu and Franc Klein. While John and Martha’s marriage ended in the 1980s, the two remained close, living together as roommates for the last several years. At the end of his life, John expressed deep appreciation for the love and care Martha bestowed.

Memorial to be announced in 2023. To leave condolences, visit


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