U.S. maritime industry stalwart Stanley H. Barer, 82, passed away peacefully at his home in Seattle on Dec. 13, 2021, following a decade-long battle with pancreatic cancer. Widely regarded as a brilliant attorney, dedicated philanthropist and successful entrepreneur, Barer co-founded Saltchuk Resources in 1982, a family of transportation and distribution companies that had acquired more than 30 entities across air cargo, marine services, energy distribution, domestic shipping, international shipping and logistics. (Saltchuk’s subsidiaries include companies that employ SIU members.) He served as chairman of Saltchuk until 1994 and was named chairman emeritus in 2001.
“The industry lost a powerful voice in Stan,” said SIU President Michael Sacco. “He was a true ally of the American mariner and spent his career working towards improving shipping and trade between the U.S. and our allies. He also was a tremendous advocate for the Jones Act, and he will be dearly missed.”
Barer was born in 1939 in Walla Walla, Washington, to David and Dorothy Barer, who had immigrated to the United States from Ukraine and England, respectively, and made their living in the scrap metal business. The middle child and first of his family to graduate from college, Barer knew from an early age that education was the key to his future success.
After graduating from Walla Walla High, Barer earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Washington. He was hired by U.S. Sen. Warren G. Magnuson, whom he worked for in Washington, D.C., as legal counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, which Magnuson chaired. Barer served as the U.S. Senate lawyer for enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, helping write the landmark legislation. From 1965-1967, he served as the Assistant U.S. Attorney in Seattle before returning to D.C. to serve as Magnuson’s Chief of Staff. In 1972, Barer worked as legal counsel for the U.S. Delegation to the first United Nations Conference on the Environment at Stockholm, Sweden.
In 1974, he returned to Seattle with the love of his life, Alta Barer, and joined the Garvey Schubert Barer law firm. He began what would become the focus of his long professional career: rebuilding U.S.-China trade relations, including the watershed 1979 legal opinion which reopened direct shipping and aviation between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China for the first time since 1950.
While a significant change to international law, it also embodied one of Barer’s core beliefs: The world is filled with shared values, and civility can lead to greater understanding.
A staunch Democrat, Barer was an American first, advising presidents on matters of international trade regardless of party affiliation, from Johnson through Obama. Active in political fundraising, he and his wife hosted several such events in the Barer family home. They hosted Hillary Clinton as First Lady and then again as a candidate for the U.S. presidency and held several events for former U.S. Sen., Secretary of State and presidential candidate John Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry.
Throughout his career, Barer earned global recognition for his achievements, including the 2021 Gates Volunteer Service Award, presented to individuals whose philanthropy and service have taken the University of Washington to new heights. In 2011 and again in 2018, he was honored in Beijing at the Great Hall of the People with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in furthering relations between China and the United States. In 1996, he was honored with the Admiral of the Ocean Seas Award, a prestigious transportation award in the U.S.