Katie Barker has a tattoo of the name Dylan on her right forearm to symbolize her eternal love for her son.
Katie got the tattoo when Dylan was 3, believing he would always be in her life. That was not to be when Dylan, now 20, died in a one-vehicle crash on June 16. Dylan was driving up the canyon after an Avalanche Watch party in Denver, and for some reason that has not yet come to light, overcorrected and wound up going over the embankment near Lair o’ the Bear Park. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Katie was relieved to learn that neither drugs nor alcohol played a part in the accident.
Family and friends called Dylan a big teddy bear; willing to try just about anything; a great cook; a lover of music and concerts, anime, Japan, swimming and camping; fearless; a good cat-dad to his kitty Kyoshi; and someone who didn’t take things for granted.
They described him as a light to everyone, honest and easy to talk to with a unique and beautiful view on life. He was someone who could be silly yet speak his mind. He was tenacious, ambitious and always looking to earn his keep.
“He was winning at life,” Chris Kellogg, Katie’s long-term boyfriend, said. “I was proud of the way he was going. He had found a sweet spot.”
“He had high hopes and dreams,” Katie added, noting he had been promoted to assistant manager at the car detailing shop where he worked, and he had recently enrolled at Red Rocks Community College intending to get a business degree. Dylan, a 2020 Evergreen High School graduate, dreamed of owning a marijuana dispensary and grow facility one day.
Memorial for Dylan
Katie said she didn’t realize how many people’s lives Dylan had touched until the memorial at the Evergreen Elks Lodge earlier this month, when as one person put it, all of Kittredge attended.
Friends at the memorial talked about how Dylan helped them through difficult times.
“Even though I feel numb, and I’m hurt, none of this was a waste of time because I got to share a beautiful life,” family friend Joseph Koontz said at the memorial. “I hope everyone looks around and sees what one person’s life can do. We are going to endure, persist and we are going to keep that memory of Dylan in our hearts, our souls and our spirits.”
Dylan had a deep soul and was not afraid to say “I love you” to friends and family. He embraced life through Scouts, people, friends, concerts, tattoos, family and sports, especially football, which he played for more than half his life, and he originally dreamed of playing for the Denver Broncos.
“He was always there,” friend Dylan Patterson said at the memorial for D-Barks, as he was called by his friends. “If you needed to talk or get cheered up, he was the one to talk to. He was always so supportive. He had the right words to say.”
Patterson said he would never forget his friend.
“He will never be forgotten,” Patterson said. “We will live our lives in his honor and do things in his name. I hope to carry the same love and compassion because that is what everyone appreciated about him.”
A life of stories
Chris remembered a camping trip when Dylan was 10 or 11, and Dylan was making crazy faces and recording crazy videos around the campfire, noting, “That was a very typical Dylan moment.”
Katie said Dylan did a great job taking the driving test, only missing two points, and he didn’t let her forget that feat.
“I’m a better driver than you, Mom,” he would say. His first car was a 2004 Ford Edge followed by a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Dylan, who was nicknamed Big D, which came from his size on the defensive line, wanted to open a restaurant with his Grandma Mimi — calling it Big Mimi’s — but Grandma Mimi wasn’t too keen on the name.
He loved to cook, Katie said, starting with breakfast food at first and graduating to even more difficult recipes, taking the recipes and making them his. He liked spicy food, and Katie figures it was because she ate chips and salsa every day she was pregnant.
Family members said he doted on his family, especially his two nieces in addition to his mom.
Even by age 20, Dylan had his share of trials, having some friends die during high school, multiple football injuries and a car accident resulting in a severe concussion.
“He learned how to deal, how to cope, how to move forward, how to look forward and look at the bright side,” Chris said.
Katie plans to have the Dylan tattoo touched up, adding a monkey since “Monkey” was one of her nicknames for him since he was a baby, and she told Dylan often how proud she was of him and how much she loved him.
Katie said the community has been very generous with reaching out and providing support for the family, calling it amazing.
“We talked every day,” Katie said of Dylan. “He was my best friend. It’s really hard not being able to say goodbye.”
Dylan is survived by his mother Katie Barker, Grandparents Kenny and Patty Story, Uncle Matt Barker, Aunt Emily Barker and cousins Lilli and Sage Barker, Aunt Sara Miranda, Uncle Ray Miranda and three nieces from Fort Mohave, Arizona.