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Noah Barkovitz remembered for his sense of humor, dedication to family

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 | 8:16 p.m. CDT; updated 9:20 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 18, 2012

COLUMBIA — Noah Barkovitz, a member of the Signal Corps in World War II, tried to let his family know where he was in Europe using code, despite restrictions on the flow of information between soldiers and their families.

He wrote that he was was in Europe with Nancy in an attempt to allude to his location in Nancy, France. His family couldn't break the code. They didn't think to check a map to decipher the clue.

Mr. Barkovitz died Tuesday, April 17, 2012. He was 97.

He is remembered by his family as an intelligent, outgoing and wonderful man. 

Mr. Barkovitz was born Jan. 27, 1915, in Wardell to Ben H. and Rose Kohn Barkovitz.

During his service in the war, Mr. Barkovitz searched for his uncle, Sam, who had been detained in a Nazi concentration camp. While at Dachau, a camp in southern Germany that had been liberated the day before, he asked around to find out if anyone knew Sam Barkovitz. The next day, Mr. Barkovitz found him.

Mr. Barkovitz was dedicated to his family and his family's store, Barkovitz Store. He worked there from age 8 to 89, his daughter Ellen O'Kelley said.

As the son of Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe, "he was the American story," O'Kelley said. "He was thoroughly American."

Barkovitz Store was first built in Wardell, but after a fire during the early 1920s, the family relocated the store to Hayti because Hayti had a fire department.

Mr. Barkovitz married Gerry Robinson on May 7, 1947, in St. Louis. The couple moved to Tiger Place, a retirement community in Columbia, eight years ago to be closer to their children.

"He loved getting the scoop," Lynn Parshall, Mr. Barkovitz's younger daughter, said. He loved to listen to people's adventures at Tiger Place, and he was the same way when he worked at the family store.

"His favorite thing was to argue," O'Kelley said. He had several conservative friends, and he liked to debate politics.

When grandchildren came to visit and play gin, he'd purposefully call them by the wrong name just to get them riled, O'Kelley said.

Mr. Barkovitz was a central figure as a member of Temple Israel in Blytheville, Ark., about 27 miles south of Hayti, then became a member of Congregation Beth Shalom in Columbia.

On the way home from synagogue in Blytheville, when O'Kelley was a teenager, she said her father would turn the radio to KMOX/1120 AM and swear he could hear the St. Louis Cardinals score through the static.

"He must have had better hearing than we did," O'Kelley joked.

He was also an avid fan of the stock market and liked to complete crossword puzzles.

Mr. Barkovitz is survived by his wife, Gerry; two daughters, Lynn Parshall and her husband, Tim, of Columbia, and Ellen O'Kelley and her husband, Gary, of Overland Park, Kan.; two brothers, Abe Barkovitz and his wife, Pat, of Hayti, and Jacob Barkovitz and his wife, Dorothy, of Olive Branch, Miss.; four grandchildren, Josh Parshall, Jordan Parshall, Kate O'Kelley and Ben O'Kelley and his wife, Caroline; one great-grandchild, James O'Kelley; and nine nieces and nephews and their spouses.

His sister, Esther Kaplan, died earlier.

A brief remembrance for the Tiger Place community will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at Tiger Place. Services will be at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Columbia Cemetery, 30 E. Broadway.

Memorial contributions can be made to the MU Department of Family and Community Medicine, M-226 Medical Sciences Building, Columbia, MO 65212, or the Alzheimer's Association Mid-Missouri Chapter, 2400 Bluff Creek Drive, Columbia, MO 65201.

Condolences can be posted at parkerfuneralservice.com.


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