Linfield alum, veteran honored with study room
A Linfield alumnus and Vietnam veteran was honored for his life and accomplishments with a study room in Nicholson Library. Friends, family, college teammates and fellow alumni gathered to tell stories and remember Mike Barrow on Nov. 12 in the library.
Barrow graduated from Linfield in 1968 and entered the military in Vietnam, where he was killed during combat in 1969.
Barrow was described by his friends and family as an outgoing, competitive person and a “rascal.” He lettered in both football and baseball at Linfield, playing as a successful quarterback throughout his college years in 1963 through 1968.
Friends of Barrow stood up to speak about his memory and share anecdotes. His laughter and his big heart were frequently highlighted by his loved ones.
His sister, Mary Gail Barrow, told a story from their childhood about how his competitiveness went all the way back to grade school when they played softball at recess.
One friend, Brian Peterson, stood to speak of the great impact that Barrow’s friendship had on him. He showed his ring, which was inscribed with the words “Remember Mike.”
“He was a Delta, I was a Theta. You wouldn’t think that we would bond, but we did. I was a center, he was a quarterback. The bond’s still going on,” he said.
Tom Taylor, Barrow’s roommate in college, met Barrow outside of the spotlight and attention of sports.
“Mike had a zest for life that I haven’t seen since,” he said.
Pete Degenis, another close college friend of Barrow, was one of many who mentioned his large character despite his small stature.
Odis Avritt, a fellow Delta Psi Delta, spoke of Barrow’s leadership.
“Mike was kind of our leader. Everyone knows freshmen were hazed. So, as freshmen, we would go aside and figure out how we were going to get those older Deltas,” Avritt said.
Avritt talked about how he tried to talk Barrows out of going overseas. Barrows told him, “I’ve made my peace, and I will go and do what it is that I need to do.”
“He wasn’t very big, but he had the heart of a lion,” Avritt said.
Barrow met a girl in college, fell in love and proposed. Barrow left for war, but Janet Gerfen never stopped loving him, even after she went on to marry and have children.
Gerfen’s daughter, Stephanie Baird, spoke of her mother’s undying love for Barrow.
“My mom wore Michael’s engagement ring on another finger until the day she passed away, three years ago.”
There are pictures and mementos in the study room in Nicholson Library. It is the hope of many that Linfield students will see the pictures and imagine what it was like to be a student at Linfield during another time. And of course, students will be able to see the great role model that Mike Barrows was.
Kelsey Sutton/Copy chief
Kelsey Sutton can be reached at email@example.com