He is one of the most popular callers in North Carolina. The caller for two Triad area clubs, he averages calling three nights a week. He has recorded five singles for Red Boot Star Recordings; among these are "Midnight Hour," "Henrietta," and "It Sure is Monday."
He is Cleo Barker of Whitsett, North Carolina, a self-employed home appliance repairman who began square dancing in 1982 and started calling three years later for the Cactus Squares of Burlington. In 1987 he began calling for the Carolinians of Greensboro and still calls for both clubs. His career also includes stints calling for the Golden Dippers, and Square Ups of Durham, High Point Twirlers, and Shallowford Squares of Elon College. Cleo's favorite singing calls are "Georgia Rain" and "Loving You."
The amiable caller, known for his splendid simulation of Donald Duck's voice, regularly calls at the Smoky Mountain Round-Up each March and October in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. He has been to all 10 Tar Heel state conventions except one and 10 or 12 national conventions and has called at all of the state and most of the national conventions attended. In addition he calls and emcees at many of the quarterly dances of the Folk, Round, and Square Dance Federation of North Carolina. A CALLERLAB member, he believes the fellowship shared by dancers is the greatest benefit of the activity dear to his heart. "Seeing people smile and forgetting their worries and troubles is a rewarding experience for me," he declares.
A member of Mt. Hope United Church of Christ, where Wayne Nelson a Carolinians member is pastor, Cleo cites Psalms 100 as his favorite scripture. One Saturday night every summer this church's fellowship hall is the site of a dinner for the Carolinians, followed by a rendition of country, gospel, and blue grass music from a string quartet, with Cleo playing guitar.
How much longer will Cleo continue to dance and call? His response: "As long as my health is good," adding "Hopefully when I retire from my business, I'll have more time to call in nursing homes and retirement centers."
In his leisure time, Cleo spends several hours a week on the golf course, where he has a 12 handicap. For 11 years he served as chief of the Mt. Hope Volunteer Fire Department in his community.
For the past seven years Cleo has been married to Virginia, a Carolinians member who was instrumental in the success of the Sew and Save Clinic at the 48th NSDC in Charlotte (1998). His first wife, Barbara, died of cancer in 1990. He has two daughters - Trinna and Dana - and two granddaughters - Rachel, 6 and Rebecca, 3. Dana and her husband Jimmy are Carolinians members also.