Cover photo for James Stanley Barlow's Obituary
James Stanley Barlow Profile Photo
James

James Stanley Barlow

d. January 10, 2021

James Stanley Barlow, Jr. (“Stanley”), 96, passed away peacefully on January 10, 2021, with Nell, his wife of 69 years, holding his hand. Stanley was born in August 1924 in Johnson City, Tennessee, the youngest of five children and the only son. His father, an attorney, died three months later, and Stanley often remarked, “I grew up in a house full of women.” As a boy, Stanley published and sold his own newspaper, giving early expression to what became lifelong interests in writing and politics. Other enduring loves were music and acting. While in sixth grade at North Side Elementary School, Stanley performed in the title role of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. He listened regularly to Texaco’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera on the radio, a new technology in his boyhood. At Science Hill High School, he was president of the debate team, played trumpet in the JROTC band, and received the best actor award for the senior play.

Stanley’s college education was interrupted by World War II, in which he served as a navigation officer in the U.S. Army Air Forces, flying on transport missions carrying military supplies and personnel around the world. After graduating from Wheaton College with a B.A. in history in 1947, Stanley earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1950. At seminary, Stanley was the senior class president, sang and traveled with the Seminary Choir, and on weekends served as student pastor for the Palisades Presbyterian Church in Palisades, New York, a church he remained lovingly connected with for the rest of his life. Stanley was also awarded the Robinson Fellowship, a grant for post-graduate study, which he postponed using for a few years, wishing first to gain more practical work experience.

Returning to his family home in Johnson City, Stanley was ordained as a Presbyterian minister and became Assistant Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. During this tenure, he wooed and wed Nell Still, a home economics major at East Tennessee State University and a daughter of the managing agent of the local F.B.I. office. The newlyweds soon moved to Alabama, where Stanley served two interim pastorates, and then embarked for two years in Scotland, where Stanley used the Robinson Fellowship to earn a Ph.D. in comparative religion at the University of Saint Andrews. After returning to the United States, Stanley worked as a university pastor in Oregon and Pennsylvania, spent a leave of absence studying at Harvard Divinity School, and became increasingly drawn to the field of higher education. Although he remained a faithful cleric throughout his life, his interests ultimately led him to become a professor of philosophy and an administrator, first at the University of Minnesota, then at Columbia University, and finally at the City University of New York.

Stanley and Nell raised two daughters and two sons. In 1966 the family settled into the small suburban town of Leonia, New Jersey, with Stanley commuting into the big city of New York for the rest of his career. Stanley loved Leonia and their large, old house there, which allowed him a third-floor study full of books and music. He was elected to the Leonia Borough Council that governed the town and acted in plays produced by the Leonia Players Guild, the oldest amateur theater company in New Jersey. He participated in poetry study groups at the Leonia Public Library and read annually at “Leonia Reads,” a forum for local writers. He occasionally “supplied the pulpit” (i.e., substituted when the minister was away) at both the Presbyterian Church in Leonia and the Palisades Presbyterian Church. Along with Nell, Stanley made sure his children had plenty of "family fun" while growing up, including camping trips, jumping the waves at the Long Island beaches, and evenings of charades and other games. For decades he swam late afternoon laps most summer days at the Leonia Municipal Pool, which inspired one of his poems (and book titles), Swimming Laps in August.

After retiring in 1995, Stanley and Nell spent most winters in Bradenton, Florida, where two of Stanley’s sisters and his mother had come to live. He wrote poetry and in other genres and enjoyed swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2009 Stanley and Nell moved from Leonia to The Forest at Duke, a continuing care community in Durham, North Carolina. There Stanley participated in drama and poetry readings, choral performances, and other special interest groups, as well as seated volleyball games, which he continued to play even after becoming wheelchair-bound.

Stanley loved jokes, puns, and anecdotes, readily adopting Scottish, hillbilly, and other accents in conversation with relatives and friends. He enjoyed saying hello, and never liked to be rushed. His family is grateful for his longevity and will miss his hearty laugh, sharp intellect, vibrant voice, and passion for life. In addition to Nell, Stanley is survived by his children -- Susan (DuBois) of Tucson, Arizona, Jim of Santa Monica, California, David of Arlington, Massachusetts, and Ann (Pointer) of Tampa, Florida -- nine grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

A memorial service for Stanley will be held on June 26, 2021, at 4:00 p.m. in the chapel at the First Presbyterian Church in Johnson City, Tennessee, to be followed immediately by a committal service at Oak Hill Cemetery.

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Starts at 4:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Ceremony

Saturday, June 26, 2021

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Graveside Service

Saturday, June 26, 2021

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