Bruce Owen Barkley


Bruce Owen Barkley, 90, of Galesburg, Illinois died Saturday, March 30, 2024, at home. Born in Chicago, Illinois on August 9, 1933, son of Kenneth and Mary L (Richards) Barkley, he grew up on farms near Newton, Illinois. Bruce attended Deep Springs College (California) and graduated from the University of Illinois with a B. A. in English and a MSLS in Library and Information Science.

He married Clare Emmerich in 1956 in Newton, Illinois. Together they raised seven children. In 1997, he married Margaret (Hicks) Wainer in Galesburg. In Champaign-Urbana, Bruce worked at Lincoln Trails Libraries System and served as acting director of the Champaign Public Library. Always active in the community, Bruce was president of the local Audubon Society, was a Boy Scout master and involved in the PTA. He valued social justice. In the 1950’s, he helped achieve equal treatment in the area barber shops.

In 1982, Bruce moved to Galesburg and was appointed as Director of the Galesburg Public Library until his retirement. Active in professional organizations, he was president of the Illinois Library System Trustees and a member of the American and Illinois Library Associations. Bruce joined the noon Rotary Club serving as president and was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow. His Rotary legacy is the Little Free Libraries installed in the Galesburg area.

Bruce was a member of Grace Anglican Church, sang in the Galesburg Community Chorus, and was active in Jazz Unlimited. He loved photography, was a musician (guitar and piano) and in younger years, sang at weddings. He read widely and would stay up all night to finish a good book.

Bruce appreciated the outdoors through camping, hiking and birding. He loved flowers and visited botanical gardens. He also worked on Nature Conservancy projects in St Croix V.I. and in Arizona. A trip was always on his mind, and he traveled widely in the United States Europe, North Africa and South America.

Bruce is survived by his wife Margaret, his children and grandchildren.

Alison Barkley (Robert Ford), David Barkley (Debbie Richardson) and daughter, Shannon, John Barkley (Mary Anne) and daughter, Lillian, Stephen Barkley, Michael Barkley (Christine Mayer), Erin Barkley (Matthew Peckham), James Barkley (Tracie) and children Noah and Celia. Also surviving are his ex-wife, Clare Barkley, many nieces and nephews; stepdaughters, Tamara Wainer (Dan Miller) and Hilary Donnelly (Ben) and children Elijah and Kathryn.

The family thanks Beacon of Hope Hospice for their loving care. Special thanks to Jeff Sterling, and Brad and Lynne Stevenson. Bruce was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Ruth Elmer.

Visitation will be 5:00 – 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11 2024 at Grace Anglican Church, 151 E. Carl Sandburg Drive, Galesburg, Illinois. Funeral Mass will be 11:00 a.m. Friday at the church followed by a celebration of life and a luncheon. Burial will be at Riverside Cemetery in Newton, Illinois on Saturday, April 13, at 11:30 a.m. Arrangements have been entrusted to Watson Thomas Funeral Home and Crematory, Galesburg. Memorial contributions may be made to the Galesburg Public Library Foundation or to Grace Anglican Church. Online expressions of sympathy may be sent to the family at

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