Archive for October, 2015

McWhirter-Barrett, Harry c1939_edited

Harry McWhirter-Barrett c 1939 Denver, Colorado, United States

Harry M. Barrett received the A.B. Degree at Allegheny College, Meadville, Pennsylvania, in 1891. He received other degrees including the Doctor of Letters from the University of Denver. In 1893 he came to Colorado, and taught Latin in East High School. An editorial experience in Erie, Pennsylvania, during those two years had prepared him, no doubt, to be interested in the same sort of work here; and, together with a little reportorial work, for years he had much to do with the Colorado School journal, both has advisor and as editor.

Harry McWhirter-Barrett c1892_edited

Harry McWhirter-Barrett 1891 Allegheny College, Meadville, Pennsylvania, United States

In 1907, I believe, he left East High School to become principle of Central High School in Pueblo Colorado. 5 years later, in 1912, he returned it to Denver as principal of East High School, and remained there during the troublesome days of the war of 1914 to 1918. In 1920, he went to Boulder Colorado. There he remained In charge of the College of Education until 1937. During the two or three years before his retirement he endured much physical and mental suffering, which almost killed him. A year or more of travel, apparently gave him back his health; and he remained fairly well until the Nazis rolled through Holland. 3 days later, he was dead. Had he lived a few weeks longer, he would have received one more degree, the PhD from his alma mater. At least, he had the comfort of knowing that last Monday, that this honor would be his.

Such is the brief outline of the life of a man who made himself a quiet force in everything educational in one state, and in many of its religious movements; who was known and respected as highly in Greeley and Fort Collins and Gunnison as in Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Boulder, and Denver.

My acquaintance with Barrett began in January of 1896. During that winter, his doctor said he had appendicitis. Accordingly, he remained in bed for a week, and I took his classes in Latin. I remember that they knew their Latin, perhaps better than I, myself, at that time. From that time on I knew Harry Barrett as a man as well as anyone ever knew him, I guess, unless it were Aaron Gove, and Dorus Ruben Hatch. Barrett loved to sing; and for a while he and two other men and I formed a quartet for mutual pleasure mostly. When he brought his wife to Denver in 1896 and thereafter when the children came, we were drawn together through somewhat similar interests.

Harry McWhirter-Barrett Family c1912_edited

Almira Barrett (standing), Charles McWhirter Barrett, Jessie Davis Edwards Barrett, Hugh Edwards Barrett 1912 Denver, Colorado, United States

During the war he lost his older son at Fort Logan. I truly believe the anguish caused by that loss, and the repression of his grief at that time contributed to the weakness of heart which took him off 20 odd years later. He was intensely patriotic, and in his desire to appear all that the leader of so many young men and women should appear in a national emergency, he denied himself the legitimate relief of sorrow acknowledged and expressed. Perhaps, too, the memory of those days of terrible sadness came back and overwhelmed him, when Holland was snuffed out.

Barrett, Hugh Edwards Obituary April 1918_edited

Hugh Barrett Edwards (1897-1918)

He joined the school masters Club in 1895. He was not, therefore, a charter remember, for the club had been in existence nearly a year. But charter member or no, he was one of the old guard, that old guard who with Aaron Gove were interested and active in every matter educational or politic-educational. May I assure you, gentleman, that in those days this club was not exactly a rather sprawling social aggregation. It was a close knit, earnest unit, with eyes and ears wide open for any method by which the cause of education in Colorado could be helped. Whether the need were for a pedagogical talk a political interview, some move for reorganization, or a combination of the three, Harry Barrett’s thorough education, practical and keen mind, and his ability to present–were in valuable.

Socially, in the club, he was, I should say, the most popular remember ever enrolled, and yet one who never quite broke down his dignity and reserve. Many of you never had a chance to enjoy his repartee, his wit, or his yarns. A teller of stories he was by instinct and self-training; and many a time he has tickled this club with some piquant anecdote. I will say, however, that his stories if piquant were not risqué or malodorous.

Barrett’s singing voice was an odd one but thoroughly musical. He could sing a very respectable baritone, lead the gang like a second tenor, or even squeal into the “barber shop” notes of the lyric. But whatever part he sang, he threw himself into the singing with such whole-hearted zeal that for years he was the acknowledged chorister of the Schoolmasters, and was relied upon even longer to lead off in an emergency. Somewhere or other he picked up the most of the modern streamlined mumbles and wails, even as he remembered all the ditties of an older vintage, and the names of person who he met anywhere.

He made a point of knowing every member of this club, as long as such a feat was possible. He was a very agreeable and sympathetic table companion, who never did all of the talking. His mind was alert and he felt his way into the attitude of his neighbor at dinner. So warmly did he take the Schoolmasters Club to his heart that more than once I have heard men mention it as “Barrett’s Club.”

As educator he was never in that class of leaders who immediately and infallibly know all the answers. Before he attempted to help or advise he would listen patiently and long. Then, if he approved your action, he said so. If he disapproved, you had no doubts. He studied all modern trends. He sifted from each whatever seemed to him good; but forever kept one foot on the ground, and so firmly that he did not lose his equilibrium.

Somehow, notwithstanding his many other studies and diverse activities, he managed to maintain his direct participation in religious life and with his church. At the time of his death, he was president of the Board of Trustees of the bill if school of the ology.

Nature did not endow Barrett with an athletic body. Not that he was physically weak. Anyone who ever shook hands with him and experienced is truly Methodist grip, knew better than to take him for a weakling. But a slender frame and did defect of vision prevented him from the whole hearted plunging into athletic which many of us have enjoyed. Perhaps for that very reason he evinced a more intense enthusiasm than most men for the fortunes of his school in college teams, and a more intelligent comprehension of the relation which athletics bear to education in general and to any boy in particular.

Men have deferred (as in the case of any outstanding individual) as to Barrett’s precise value as an educator. Such differing is probably all to the credit of the man in question; and simply proves that he is not easily stamped pell-mell in any one direction. So much I can say, that whenever I have learned post factum the circumstances surrounding some professional act of his which I had failed to understand, I have found a conscientious man struggling, as very few of us do struggle, to do his duty as he saw his duty, and to meet obstacles as a Christian gentleman. As to Barrett’s qualifications as a friend I have heard only one story: kind, sympathetic, intelligent, forbearing, willing, steadfast.

I am told that Barrett was as popular in the Rotary Club as he used to be here. The reasons are not hard to find. Well-read on topics of today, of yesterday, and of yesteryear, he could match almost anyone anywhere in conversation; but he was so considerate of other fellow’s viewpoint that he seldom was over persistent, or gave one the appearance of superiority. Then he was unfailingly witty, with the kind of clean clear-cut humor which pleases all.

“The old order changeth, yielding place to new,” and it should do so, if our old is to be anything but stagnant. Yet I feel that in the death of Harry McWhirter Barrett, not only the Schoolmasters Club but education in Colorado has lost one of its foundation piers, that the gap thus created is probably one which will never be exactly and completely be filled.

Harry McWhirter-Barrett is buried at Fairmount Mausoleum & Cemetery in Denver, Colorado.

Harry McWhirter-Barrett Gravemarker_edited

Harry McWhirter-Barrett (1869-1940) Grave-marker

Fairmount Mausoleum, Denver, Colorado, United States_edited

Fairmount Mausoleum & Cemetery Denver, Colorado, United States

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