Dayton Daily News: Founding professor at Wright State who helped pick school colors has died


Gary Barlow, one of the first two faculty members to arrive in 1964 at what would become Wright State University.

One of the founding professors at Wright State University has died at the age of 88.

Gary Barlow, an art education professor at Wright State, was hired in the 1960s as a member of Miami University’s extension program into Dayton. He oversaw the school’s art education program and supervised Miami’s student art teachers in the Dayton area.

In the 1960s, Miami University and Ohio State University worked together on the project to bring a public university to the Dayton area.

In interviews with Wright State staff, Barlow recalled coming to the area that would become Wright State and seeing a cornfield and cow pastures.

He remembered teaching his first class at Allyn Hall while the construction workers were still hammering away.

“So I would be teaching and we’d stop and wait for them, and they’d click in all of these things, and I’d signal and they’d stop, and I’d be lecturing and asking some questions,” Barlow said in a 2006 interview with professor Lewis Shupe.

Barlow said one construction worker raised his hand during the class. Barlow called on him, and the construction worker answered correctly.

In the same interview, he recalled picking green and gold as the colors for Wright State as a contrast for the red and white at Miami and scarlet and grey at Ohio State. Coming up with the name for the university was also hard, he said, but the staff were able to brainstorm through it.

Barlow said in the early days of Wright State, many of the staff members would help each other out. He recalled one day when he was helping with the veterans, which wasn’t his job.

“In the beginning, it was very free-wheeling, I mean really, very free-wheeling at the beginning,” Barlow said in the 2006 interview. “Boy, we were all in new shoes and trying new things and experimenting a lot. Within the framework of education, of course, it wasn’t just chaos reigned, I don’t mean that, but I mean that we could try things.”

Barlow said the earliest days of teaching at Wright State were “exciting.” It was all so new and refreshing, he said. While the university had some directives from higher-ups at Ohio State and Miami, the day-to-day running of the university was left to the Wright State staff.

Seeing Wright State as what it has become was emotional, he said in the 2006 interview. Barlow retired from Wright State in 1993.

“Being here at the beginning, exciting, just too amazing, I come back and I can’t believe Wright State,” he said. “I can believe it, but I can’t believe it in some ways. It’s just, I don’t think we envisioned this much.”

Services for Barlow will be held Saturday, May 18 at Conner & Koch Funeral Home in Bellbrook from 1 to 2 p.m.

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