ETSU Alums Publish Book to Honor a Life Tragically Cut Short

Sue Scott Barker and Jeanne Davis Lawrence, who both received their master’s in education from East Texas State University, have collaborated to publish a children’s book called “The Boar Named Bob.” The book honors Cole Barker, son of Sue and Ron Barker, also an ETSU alum, who died tragically in a skiing accident in 2017 at the age of 35.

Surprisingly, the story was not written to be published; in fact, it was homework. The narrative and illustrations inside the 32-page soft cover book were inspired by Cole’s very first hog hunt. The original story was created when Lawrence, Cole’s fourth-grade teacher, asked her students to write a book.

Lawrence rescued the book assignment from a trash can when 10-year-old Cole threw it away after a parents’ night event. She saved it all those years because she was impressed and proud of the story and even used it as an example for other students. After Cole’s death, Lawrence gave the book to Cole’s mother, Sue Barker.

A year later, Sue Barker saw another children’s book in a store window and was inspired to help keep her son’s memory alive. She reached out to a publisher to share his story. The publisher loved it and “The Boar Named Bob” was born.

“Losing our son was nothing short of devastating, but the love and support from Cole’s family and friends has helped lessen the heartache we face each day without him,” Sue Barker said. “Thanks to incredible teachers, like Ms. Lawrence, who can see potential, and friends, who band together, Cole’s book and his memory will touch more lives than we ever thought possible.”

All proceeds from the book will be donated to the Cole Barker Memorial Scholarship Fund to grant annual scholarships to graduating seniors at Mount Vernon High School in Mount Vernon, Texas. The scholarship fund was created by Cole’s classmates from the Mount Vernon High School class of 2000.