OBITUARY: Alexander "Zan" Barker |

OBITUARY: Alexander "Zan" Barker

Zan Barker, born in Los Angeles, CA, March 25, 1947 to Alexander “Lex” Barker and Constance Thurlow-Adams, passed away peacefully at his home in Marla Bay, Lake Tahoe, NV on October 2, 2012.

He is survived by his brother, Christopher; his sister, Gaye; nephews Michael, Daniel, Justin; and nieces Laura and Clarissa. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Lynn.

Zan lead a remarkable life. As a child he spent much of his time on movie sets with his father, who played “Tarzan” produced by Sol Lesser at RKO Productions in Los Angeles from 1949 to 1953. His father went on to produce over 60 films in both the US and Europe. Zan was very proud of his father and shared stories of him and his travels around the world. One of his fondest memories was watching his father lead the 1952 Rose Bowl Parade on a large African elephant.

Zan graduated from a boarding school in Arizona and went abroad to study hotel and restaurant management in Berlin, Germany. He was drafted into the US Army and served in Vietnam for two years as a photographer for the Army and was the Aide-de-camp to the General in Saigon. Zan was honorably discharged in 1971. Zan then moved to Lake Tahoe where he started the Tahoe life, the same as so many Tahoeans. He was a dealer at the Stateline casinos and later worked as a waiter at the Station House Inn. Zan became passionate about skiing, hiking, biking, boating and waterskiing. He established many lifelong friends, whom he treasured for the remainder of his life.

In 1997 Zan’s entrepreneurial spirit sparked when he purchased a small hamburger shack at the beach, now known as the Lakeside Beach Grill, a popular restaurant on the South Shore. Later, he was instrumental in turning a rundown area of the beach into a beautiful and peaceful park setting used for family gatherings, weddings, as well a quiet sitting area for visitors to enjoy the sunsets. He also founded the Great American Wreath Company. Throughout the city, hundreds of businesses proudly display his company’s creations at Christmas time. He was actively involved in the Lake Park Association, including serving as President for many years.

He was an expert at connecting people to each other and loved to see those he connected flourish into viable businesses and long lasting relationships. There are many people who are now lifelong friends because of Zan Barker.

Recommended Stories For You

An avid traveler, Zan was looking forward to his next European adventure this spring. He developed many friendships around the globe and he corresponded with them regularly.

Zan also developed a passion for the arts. He loved classical music, opera, paintings, and architecture. Photography was an obsession as Zan photographed every aspect of nature, people and particularly sunsets at Lake Tahoe. Some of his photos were published in Nature Magazine and National Geographic.

Zan was a gracious and welcoming man who always found the good in people he met and things he experienced. He was always delighted to meet new people and it was easy for him to extend an invitation to sit and share his time with you. His family was the most important aspect of his life but he also loved his friends and cared about the future of Lake Tahoe.

A Sunset service will take place at Lakeside Beach on Sunday October 14th at 5 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be sent for the preservation of the Valhalla Boathouse Theater – Checks can be made to The Tahoe Tallac Association c/o the Valhalla Boathouse Theater.

Donations may be sent to:

Tahoe Tallac Association, PO Box 19273, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150. Please indicate donations are sent on behalf of the memory of Zan Barker.

For more information, please contact

Go back to article