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Henry M. Barlow

April 20, 1935 — May 26, 2024

Henry M. Barlow

Henry M. Barlow

April 20, 1935 – May 26,2024

Henry’s childhood and teen-aged years were spent in rural southwest Georgia. In response to a life of poverty and social isolation, was hard working and had a love of reading widely to feed his active intellect. He was born in Hahira, Georgia to William Henry Barlow and Susan Mary Meyers. He was the youngest of eight children. His oldest siblings were already adults when he was born. His father was a day-laborer who later became a sharecropper, and in 1945, purchased a small farm. Henry worked on the farm from childhood through teen years picking peanuts, cotton, corn, and milking the family cow. His closest neighbors were a mile away. There were no neighborhood children to play with. Animals were his closest friends, especially his beloved horse, Flash. He often walked for miles through the vast wooded land that surrounded the farm with his dog and shot gun.

Henry attended Lakeside Baptist Church, where he discovered his love of choral singing. People at the church observed his keen intellect and introduced him to students from Norman Junior College, in Norman Park, Georgia. He graduated from Baker County High School in 1953, despite never sitting for final exams in his senior year. The high school principal marveled at how a young man who missed so much school to work the family farm, could still do so well in the classroom. Henry wanted to escape the poverty and isolation he had experienced and saw education as a route to this end.

He was able to attend Norman Junior college because of rehabilitation funds that helped pay for tuition and books. (He had a congenital back malformation.) The funds, plus a job as janitor at the school, enabled him to pay his way.

After graduating from junior college, Henry attended Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where he took classes that interested and challenged him. These intentionally did not include Civil War history. He recalled having little time for a social life because of his studies and needing to work to support himself. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology in 1957; went on to work as the director of a Rehabilitation Center in Savannah; and then the Georgia Department of Public Health. His dedication to the common good was apparent.

On a trip to Columbus, Ohio, he was offered a part-time job with the Ohio Department of Public Health and a place in the graduate program in Sociology at The Ohio State University. There he learned about the phenomenon known as Big Ten football and made many friends among international students. He was a part-time instructor and earned both a Master of Arts degree (1964) and a PhD (1968). His dissertation research was a study of the power structure in the city of Columbus.

Henry was a professor of Sociology at the University of Kentucky from 1967 to 1973, and then at Cleveland State University in Ohio until his retirement in 2000. It was there that he met his wife, Barbara, in 1991, also a faculty member.

Henry’s major focus in Sociology included the study of Health Care and Aging. He collaborated with colleagues to establish a multidisciplinary program in Gerontology and was its director until his retirement. He was active in the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, and developed ties to the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare in Washington, D.C. He continued this relationship after retirement in Ohio and then in Colorado as the Coordinator of Volunteers for the State until 2024. In 2014, Henry ran as a Democratic candidate for the Colorado State Representative District 43. He enjoyed canvassing from house to house and meeting the residents, and listening to what their concerns were.

Henry participated in choral groups as a bass throughout his adult life, including the Cleveland Choral Arts Society, the Lutheran Chorale in Lakewood, CO., and the choir at St. Timothy’s. His taste in music was eclectic and included classical works; folk music and dance; liturgical music; and negro spirituals. He loved folk dancing of all types and was a long-time member of the Scottish Country Dance Society.

In 2011, Henry and Barbara moved to Highlands Ranch, Colorado to be near Henry’s son, Jeff, and grandchildren, Julia, and Jimmy. He relished his role as father and grandfather always and was buoyed by their visits during his recent illness. He will be sorely missed by them, his wife, Barbara, sisters, Violet and Viola, and nieces and nephews.

A high school classmate recently wrote to Henry remarking, “You had the least among us and yet achieved the most.” Amen.

Henry’s favorite missive to all was,

“Keep a smile on your face, a song in your heart, and a rhythmic beat in both your feet.”

May he rest in peace.

Henry died of pancreatic cancer. Donations in his name can be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, pancan.org.

A service and celebration of life for Henry will be held at 11: 00 am on June 22, 2024, at St. Timothys Episcopal Church, 1401 E Dry Creek Road, Littleton, CO. A lunch reception will follow at the church.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Henry M. Barlow, please visit our flower store.

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