Community rallies around parents after sudden loss


SHORT TIME HERE — Members of the Barker family gather around little Gavin, who passed away from hydrocephalous at the Barbara Bush Wing at Maine Medical Center in Portland. A community fundraiser will be held this Saturday to help pay medical costs.

What: Community Fundraising Dinner and Auction to help pay the medical bills for Gavin Warren Barker

When: Saturday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Where: American Legion Post No. 155, just past the corner of Route 302 and 11.


By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Unless one has sat at the bedside of a dying child or had it happen unexpectedly, a person cannot imagine what it feels like to be the parent.

On Aug. 1, a couple with strong roots in the Naples community gave birth to a baby boy. Their child, Gavin Warren Barker, lived to be one month old, dying on Labor Day 2012.

According to his aunt, Karen Durling, Gavin was very sweet boy, and his short life was a Godsend because his physical complications would have caused him to suffer for a prolonged period of time.

“We all think it is a blessing. We think he would have had a rough life,” she said.

Gavin’s medical condition was called hydrocephalous, and it was undetectable during the ultrasounds.

“When he was first born we could tell something was wrong because his head was abnormally big. They did the CAT scan the day he was born. There was so much fluid in there — in his head — that the doctors couldn’t even see his brain,” she said.

“The second day he was alive, the shunt was put in his head. Later, he had a tracheotomy in his throat, in his neck, he had a tube so he could breath,” she said.

Durling said at the Barbara Bush Wing in the Maine Medical Center, the staff was wonderful and caring. The hospital provided a professional photographer for the family.

Also, the Naples community has rallied around Gavin’s parents, Jessica Durling and Jeremy Barker, and planned a fundraiser to help with the medical bills. The fundraising dinner and auction will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at the American Legion Post No. 155.

“We are going to have crock pot foods, and the bar will be open,” she said, adding the Legion will be open to the public for that evening’s benefit.

Durling said already the support has been profound, both at the grassroots level and also on the Facebook page she set up in Gavin’s name.

“Most people I know have Facebook, and I made a page for him,” she explained.

“It’s crazy how many people have come forward to support us,” she said.

“Local businesses have donated gift certificates and items so we can have a raffle,” Durling said.

“Curtis Merrill, he let us use the Legion hall for free,” she said, adding, “He is a pretty good friend with Jeremy’s grandmother.”

Durling said Jeremy Barker’s family has ties to Maine that go back several generations.

“Jeremy’s family is unbelievably huge. He has a lot of family from Maine and the local area, and a lot of family from Massachusetts. And, they are all coming to the benefit,” she said.

Both Jeremy and Jessica graduated from Lake Region High School. The two started dating a few years ago.

However, the two had known each other for many years since they both grew up in the Town of Naples.

Jessica has called Naples home since she was a little girl when her parents and three sisters moved to the area from Massachusetts.

Friends and family from all over New England have posted words of sympathy and pledged to come to this Saturday’s fundraiser for Jessica and Jeremy, according to Durling.

The family opened a savings account for Gavin at Norway Savings Bank. The account is called Support Gavin Warren Barker.


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