Edwin D. Barlow was a legend at Horace Greeley High School during the time he taught here. But he continues to make his mark on the lives of Greeley students even 10 years after his death, thanks to his great generosity to the Horace Greeley Education Fund.
Mr. Barlow taught mathematics and physics for 36 years at the high school, and his style was nothing if not unique. He was known to read poetry and excerpts from "Alice in Wonderland" to his math students, a book which he said contained his complete philosophy of education.
He was renowned for his authoritarian style - on day one of all his classes, Mr. Barlow warned students that he would not tolerate elbows on their desks or chewing gum in their mouths. His strictness even included a prohibition against students crossing their legs. Former students recall that Mr. Barlow called on them using names like "vegetable boy" and "urchin child."
Yet Edwin Barlow was also legendary for his intense devotion to teaching and his deep generosity with his time, staying so many hours after school to help students that rumors circulated that he actually had no home of his own. Once, when a former student was having trouble with college mathematics, Mr. Barlow spent a weekend tutoring him. He was chosen Greeley's Teacher of the Year in 1983 and 1984.
Known as a loner, Mr. Barlow never married and was estranged from his own family. His eccentricities won him admirers and detractors. One Open House at Greeley, parents visiting his classroom found no Mr. Barlow, only a bottle of gin and a glass on his desk, with a note that read: "I'm going home to have a martini. Why don't you do the same?"
A stocky man with a head of shoulder-length grey hair in his later years, Mr. Barlow spoke French, German, Latin, Russian and Mandarin Chinese. He taught Russian informally before it became part of the curriculum at Greeley and taught Chinese as an after school enrichment.
After serving in World War II, under General George S. Patton - service for which he was awarded a Purple Heart - Mr. Barlow graduated from Holy Cross College. In 1952, he received a master's degree in education from Harvard University. He also completed graduate work in Chinese and the Slavic languages at Harvard and Yale; in math and science at Tufts and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; and in humanities at the New School of Social Research.
In his last few years of teaching at Greeley, Mr. Barlow's health began to fail due to a heart ailment. At the end of November of 1990, he became so weak he had trouble rising from his desk. Still, Mr. Barlow refused to go to the hospital until he had lesson plans prepared for his substitute. When he was hospitalized, he heard from dozens of students, one of whom wrote, "Obviously, class is not the same without you," signed "Vegetable Boy."
Ed Barlow died on December 17, 1990, leaving his death benefits and insurance policies of roughly $500,000 to the Horace Greeley Education Fund - his generosity towards his students in life continuing in his death. Mr. Barlow's extraordinary gift tripled the amount of money in the fund, and established the trust that would continue to help Greeley graduates attend college for decades to come.
At his funeral, Larry Breen delivered the eulogy, saying in part, "At a time in their lives when young people feel body and image are all that matters, he demanded that they respect their minds. He made them pay attention to their intelligence. His teaching was not an invitation to learn, it was a command performance."