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May 25, 2018

Obituary: Robin Barlow

September 14, 2015

Obituary: Robin Barlow

Topic: Obituaries

Robin Barlow, professor emeritus of epidemiology in the School of Public Health, died at home in Augusta, Michigan, on Aug. 23 after a long illness. He was 81.

Robin Barlow

Born in Blackburn, England, Barlow received his AB degree from Oxford University in 1954. After college, he served in the British Army as a Second Lieutenant, Royal Corps of Signals. He then emigrated to the United States, earning his Master of Business Administration and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan in 1958 and 1961, respectively.  

Barlow joined the U-M faculty as a lecturer, then assistant professor of economics in 1961 and was promoted to associate professor in 1967 and professor in 1970. In 1961, he also became a faculty associate in the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, serving as acting director of that center in 1994 and as director from 1995-97. From 1978-88, he was director of the Center for Research on Economic Development and from 1986-93 was co-director and director of the Seminaire sur l’Economie du Developpement.  During this time from 1988-95, he was also a professor in the School of Public Health Department of Population Planning and International Health. In 1995, that department was integrated into the Department of Epidemiology where Barlow served as professor until he was named professor emeritus of epidemiology in July 2000.

Within the School of Public Health, he played a key role in the international health program, working closely with public health students to identify and help secure funding for their overseas internships. He simply loved being a teacher.

“Robin Barlow was the classic professor, full of ideas, willing to share, open to suggestions, yet never acting as if he was above others.” said Mark Wilson, U-M professor of epidemiology and a close colleague.  “He insisted on rigor, yet did so with gentle firmness and quiet encouragement.”

Barlow published widely on the relationship between public health and development and consulted frequently with the World Bank, the World Health Organization, the United States Agency for International Development and other international agencies.  He was also a gifted actor, performing in 50 local theater productions, often in a leading role.

Barlow is survived by his wife, Betsy; children Jim, Jennifer (Ed Gibbs), and Rebecca (Michael Cooper); eight grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.  His daughter, Gwendolyn Barlow, predeceased him.  A memorial service will take place 4 p.m. Oct. 16 at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Richland, Michigan.

— Submitted by Terri Mellow, School of Public Health


Susanni Ngarian
on 11/06/15 at 12:16 am

To be mentored by Dr. Barlow was a true privilege. I felt fortunate to have such an excellent mentor. He was very approachable and helpful all the times. He showed great dedication in teaching and mentoring. He unfailingly availed himself to help me throughout my externship and thesis project, and I was able to complete the program and graduate on time, all thanks to Dr. Barlow. I am very grateful to him and will forever be.
My heartfelt condolence to his wife, children and grandchildren.

Bierta Barfod
on 11/06/15 at 9:52 am

Like Susanni, I was very sad to learn that our favorite professor at the School of Public Health had passed away just this past summer. Dr. Barlow was a wonderful teacher and had a terrific sense of humor. His classes were a real pleasure to attend. I still think of him whenever anyone mentions "The Gambia". Condolences to his family.

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