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A life worth writing about

Douglas Barman's sons convince him to tell his story


REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - A man and his medals. Douglas Barman had an excellent service record in World War II. But until recently he was reluctant to talk about it.

“Family, God, Country.”

That was always the motto of Douglas Barman. This Lake Oswego man with solid values has had a wonderful life, but he has never felt compelled to tell his story to the world.

Until now. After years of pressure from his sons Doug and Bob, Barman will soon be coming out with his autobiography. It is a tale from what has been called “the Greatest Generation” — the generation that survived the Great Depression, fought in World War II, helped build America into the world’s greatest super power in the postwar years and struggled through the long night of the Cold War.

He was a normal, everyday, good American guy, but he was also remarkable, and his sons did not want his story to fade away.

“When Dad turned 87, I thought, ‘Wow, all of his history will be gone,’” said Bob Barman of Lake Oswego, a member of the LO School Board. “I wanted him to tell his story for my kids and for my kids’ kids.”

REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Douglas Barman goes over some notes with his co-author MacKenzie Freeman. She credited Barman, even at age 90, with having a remarkable memory.

The pressure from Bob and his brother Doug finally paid off. At age 90 Douglas Barman has completed his autobiography, titled “As I Recall,” with the help of professional writer MacKenzie Freeman, and it will be published in mid-May — 460 pages worth.

Barman now feels relief. His sons won’t be pestering him anymore, and his family is overjoyed that he told his life story.

“I’m very happy and feel a great sense of accomplishment,” Barman said. “It’s wonderful to have all of the interesting things I’ve done and the adventures I’ve had contained in one book.”

His son Doug, a telecom director in Texas, brought up lots of reasons why people should read his dad’s book.

n What it was like to live in the ’20s and ’30s when times were really tough.

n What World War II was like for a normal guy, a normal guy who experienced mortal combat in the Pacific War.

n How he raised seven children (perhaps his greatest accomplishment) despite being transferred all over the world by his company.

n How a dirt poor kid rose to the top of his profession. His secrets of finding oil, which made him an outstanding man in his field in his day.

n As a sweet bonus for his readers, the book ends with a love story. After Betsy, his wife of 62½ years passed away, Barman found new love at Mary’s Woods.

The book will cover some of the Barman family’s most cherished stories about their dad, but some parts will come as a revelation.

“Dad was in World War II, and we never discussed it with him,” Bob said. “I’m curious about what he will say.”

Barman fought in the Philippines on the islands of Leyte, Panay and Los Negros, carrying around a heavy 30-caliber machine gun over all kinds of difficult terrain. He served in a regiment of 5,000 men and earned the Bronze Star.

But if you asked his band of brothers what their greatest memory of Barman was, it had nothing to do with anything that happened on a battlefield. After the Japanese Empire’s surrender, Barman was serving in Korea when his commanding officer ordered him and three other soldiers in the unit to entertain the troops. Their only apparent qualification for the task was they were all very large.

“I was the smallest at 6 feet-2 inches, 225 pounds,” Barman said. “The other three were around 6 feet-6 inches and 260 pounds.

“The colonel found a guy in our regiment who was a Broadway choreographer and another who was a costume designer. They got us ready for the show. We put on French tutus and combat boots and were taught how to dance the can-can.”

The audience went crazy for this gigantic quartet.

“They laughed and laughed and laughed. That was our one and only performance.”

Afterward, Barman asked the officer why he was ordered to do such a nutty thing.

“He said, ‘Barman, I wanted a belly laugh, and you gave it to me.’”

It was another job well done.

The most memorable moment of Barman’s war service, though, came at the very end when the lives of a half a million young Americans were on the line.

“We were getting ready for the invasion of the Japanese Islands,” he said. “Then the atomic bomb was dropped and the war ended.”

After the war, he got married and raised seven children. He became an outstanding geophysicist who gained world renown for his ability to discover giant oil deposits. Barman was even invited to try out to become an astronaut, when astronauts were the rage in America. But with all of those kids back home he reluctantly turned down the offer. He settled for being the president of the organization of all the geophysicists in the world. This let him meet American greats, like President Richard Nixon and later President-to-be George H.W. Bush, who became a friend. Barman’s autobiography will be part of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library.

Barman thought his happy times might be over when his wife of more than 60 years died after they had moved to Lake Oswego.

But as always, fate gave him a glad hand. He met his future wife Pat after Mass at Mary’s Woods.

“Our love of desserts brought us together,” Pat joked.

“I love to make Pat laugh,” Barman said.

After all of this what could Barman do but write his autobiography? He has made his family very happy.

“I am extremely proud of my dad working through this project and completing his autobiography,” his son Doug said. “His accomplishments will be ‘forever’ records and available for future generations to read about.

“Dad has made the most of his life. He is simply a great guy.”

“As I Recall” is available for purchase form Amazon.com for $30 on May 16. For more information, go to MacKenzie Freeman’s website at ideascapeinc.strikingly.com.

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Douglas Barman displays a photo of himself of his good budy, President George H.W. Bush. Barmans autobiography will soon have a place in Bushs presidential library

REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Douglas Barman displays a photo of himself of his good budy, President George H.W. Bush. Barmans autobiography will soon have a place in Bushs presidential library

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