PRINCETON — Longtime Princeton area farmer and community leader Steve Barlow is being remembered as a man with a great sense of humor — a man who was well-read, and thoughtful.
Barlow died Friday at Perry Memorial Hospital in Princeton at the age of 74.
On Monday, Judd Lusher of Princeton said he had known Barlow since the Lushers moved to Princeton about 30 years ago. Barlow was serving on the Princeton Elementary School Board at the time, and Lusher was an administrator in the district. Through the years, their friendship grew, Lusher said.
In addition to serving on the PES Board, Barlow was also very active in other community groups, like the Bureau County Farm Bureau, Princeton Rotary, and his church, Lusher said. Barlow had a great sense of humor, cared about people and was a giving person, often in a quiet way, Lusher said.
“Steve could always be counted on for a good story and a good joke. He was an outgoing man, but not the kind of outgoing that was flashy,” Lusher said. “Steve was a very thoughtful person. He had a lot of good information about a lot of things. Steve was a farmer, but he was very much interested in a lot of other things as well. His horizons went behind farming. He just had a lot of good thoughts and ideas. I will miss our conversations.”
On Monday, Terry Madsen of Princeton remembered Barlow for his love for his family, his wit, and his care of the community.
Madsen said he and Barlow used to work together for the Bureau County Youth Development Coalition and had long car rides together traveling to various meetings out of the area. He also liked to sit with Barlow at Princeton Rotary Club meetings, Madsen said.
Princeton Rotary Club members will remember Barlow for his great joke telling. Rotary has the tradition that members always told a joke on their birthday, and a lot of members deferred to Barlow for their joke, Madsen said.
“Sometimes those jokes got a laugh, and sometimes they got moans, but Steve always came ready to tell a joke. He enjoyed telling them, and I enjoyed hearing them,” Madsen said.
Barlow was very proud of his family and grandchildren, Madsen said. Barlow even arranged for his grandkids to present a program at a Rotary meeting, and they were well-received, Madsen said.
Looking at Barlow’s impact on the community, Madsen said Barlow will be missed by many folks, some of whom never knew him but benefited from his quiet generosity and/or advocacy. Barlow would contact Madsen when he (Madsen) was on the Princeton City Council about issues within the community. He’d ask questions or offer advice, but not in an aggressive or argumentative way, Madsen said.
Barlow was thoughtful about things, but not inflexible, Madsen said. When he (Barlow) took positions, his motives were good, Madsen said.
“We all will miss his involvement in the community and his willingness to speak up when somebody needed to,” Madsen said. “I knew that Steve was there to offer support one way or the other, without a lot of people knowing it. That was something that was notable about Steve.”
On Monday, Cliff Cartwright of Princeton said he will remember Barlow for his great personality and sense of humor. Cartwright and Barlow met years ago through their church, the First Presbyterian Church in Princeton, and also served on the Princeton Elementary School Board together.
Barlow was definitely known for his sense of humor, Cartwright said. If someone ran out of a joke, Barlow could always pull out a flock of jokes from up his sleeve. Even in his later years, his health issues didn’t change his sense of humor. He still found time to throw in a joke and find a reason to laugh, Cartwright said.
“Steve would light up a room when he entered,” Cartwright said. “Steve was a man’s man. He was fun to be around. He could talk and talk and keep up with you on any subject.”
Even though Barlow always had a joke or two within reach, he was also a very sincere guy, very loyal and dedicated to whatever project he was involved, Cartwright said.
“Steve was well-read, He was a deep-thinker,” Cartwright said. “Steve weighed his words when he spoke. He was the kind of person that when he said something, you wanted to pay attention.”
A memorial service for Barlow is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday at the First Presbyterian Church in Princeton. The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. today, Tuesday, at the Norberg Memorial Home in Princeton.
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