Thursday, January 21, 2016
Services Set Monday for Attorney Richards Barger
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Services will be held Monday for attorney, and onetime state insurance commissioner, Richards “Dick” Barger, who died this past Sunday at the age of 87.
Barger was a co-founder of Barger & Wolen, the regulatory and insurance law boutique where he remained active until his death.
The Los Angeles native spent his childhood in Indiana, where his father, who attended law school at the University of Iowa, worked as a salesman and manufacturers’ representative. Indiana was the only place Chester Barger could find work during the Great Depression, according to a biography composed by the family.
Richards Barger attended schools in Indianapolis, and later Castle Heights Military Academy in Tennessee before entering Indiana University, from which he graduated in 1950. He then moved on to law school at USC, graduating in 1953.
He became president of the California Junior Bar Association before then-Gov. Ronald Reagan named him insurance commissioner in 1968. During that service, he was elected president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
He left the post in 1972 to join friend Alan Wolen in founding Barger & Wolen. He was active in Little League and Boy Scouts.
“The Barger household was a welcome place for friends, old and new,” his family wrote. “The lights were always on, the hearth kept warm for friends and neighbors needing a meal or a place to stay.”
Barger and his wife Ann adopted James “Okie” Olkerill, “who came home with the Barger sons one college summer and never left after being grafted into the Barger family.” He was also active in the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, an organization of connoisseurs of Burgundy wines, and organized an annual trip to France.
His wife of 50 years died in 2002. Survivors, besides his adopted son, include his second wife, Mary Jane Barger, sons Richards Barger, James Barger, and John Barger, daughter Kathryn Barger, three grandchildren, and two stepchildren.
Kathryn Barger is chief deputy to county Supervisor Mike Antonovich, and is running for the board seat now held by Antonovich, who is term-limited.
Former District Attorney Steve Cooley paid tribute to Barger yesterday, saying he “was a tremendous L.A. lawyer and, beyond that, a great man who contributed in many significant ways to the community.” People like Barger “don’t come along very often.”
San Marino attorney Michael B. Montgomery described Barger as “a genius” and “an encyclopedia of insurance law.” Montgomery, a onetime state Republican chairman, said Barger was “’early-on’ in the Reagan Revolution.”
Former County Bar President Harry Hathaway described Barger as “a great lawyer, mentor, public official, and Republican” whose “many contributions to the profession will be remembered.”
Barger’s memorial and life celebration will take place Monday at 1 p.m. at Church of Our Savior in San Gabriel. The family suggested that memorial contributions be made to the Indiana University Foundation or the Delta Tau Delta Educational Foundation.
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