Skip to main content

Davis Journal

Barlow – the ‘father’ of education gives lifetime of service

Sep 09, 2021 01:58PM ● By Becky Ginos

Haven Barlow waves as he drives by in a purple Tesla for the dedication of the new parkway entrance at the WSU Davis campus named in his honor. Courtesy photo

LAYTON—Haven J. Barlow, a tireless supporter of education, was honored on Tuesday with a new parkway entrance at the WSU Davis campus dedicated in his name. Barlow, waving from a purple Tesla, rode down the parkway and broke through a ribbon as part of the ceremony. 

The 99-year-old’s impact on education in the state and county is immeasurable. As a legislator for 42 years, not only was Barlow instrumental in getting the funding to buy the land the Davis campus sits on, he helped in transitioning Weber State into a four year institution and then a university.

“It was a real miracle that we got that 100 acres,” said Barlow. “I tried to get that 100 acres through the appropriation committee but it failed. I was very disappointed. On the last day of the legislature and my last day in the Senate, the one thing I wanted was that 100 acres of land.”

The last couple of days of the session they've already taken care of the major bills, he said. “Sometimes bills that don’t get passed the money goes back into the general fund. The Senate President said that leftover money is yours.”

Some legislators don’t even bother reading the bills, said Barlow. “I was afraid somebody would ask a question about what this $1 million appropriation is. But then the Senate President said ‘It’s time to adjourn, oh and incidentally we haven’t passed one bill, all in favor say I’ and it passed. That was absolutely a miracle.”

Barlow served in the Utah Legislature from 1953-1995. “I served for 42 years,” he said. “That’s longer than anybody’s ever served in the Utah Legislature by far.”

During his tenure, he also pushed to have every legislator serve on an appropriations committee. “We’re the only state in the nation where everybody in the legislature has a committee assignment,” said Barlow. “It’s made a great difference. Before you had to wait six to seven years to get on that committee. It wasn’t fair. They’re all elected and everybody should be on the same level.”

Barlow was the main sponsor in the legislature to move Weber State from a two year college to a four year university. “It should have been four years before,” he said. “It was sort of for sentimental reasons. My mother taught there for a couple of years. She was killed in an automobile accident. She was only 25 and had me and my brother. I thought I ought to do something in her name so I set up a scholarship for students worthy of recognition.”

He was also instrumental in getting Davis Tech off the ground and into what it is today. “I’m so pleased that we have a tech school,” Barlow said. “There’s Davis Tech and Ogden/Weber tech. It’s amazing how many schools have started and yet they’re all full.”

Barlow was also involved in building the causeway to Antelope Island. “People had a hard time realizing how important Antelope Island is,” he said. “We needed money to build a causeway and that was money that could be put into education but we needed people to come to our state.”

Despite not having the funding, Barlow and others decided to start building it anyway. “We got about six to seven miles done,” he said. “Once we got that finished there was only about a mile left to go. The county pitched in a little bit. That was exciting. Now people could come from out of state to see the causeway. I’m proud to be a part of getting that causeway built.”

Barlow will turn 100 on Jan. 4, 2022 and still has a good outlook on life. “I think we’re closer together as a people,” he said. “Never in my lifetime were people able to experience what they have now. It’s a peaceful world. That’s a great blessing that we didn’t have to go through World War III. We have our problems – there’s no question about it – but young people are coming along.”

At the dedication, WSU President Brad Mortensen said Barlow once told him to “plant trees that give shade we will never be in. If you live to be 100, you’ll get to do that.”