Luther professor emeritus of accounting and management Frank R. Barth passed away at Heritage Manor in Dubuque, Iowa, Aug. 22, 2013, surrounded by family and friends, with his wife of 73 years by his side. He was 95 years old and a vibrant, curious conversationalist up until the end.
Memorial Services were held Sept. 1, 2013, in the Recital Hall of the Center for Faith and Life on the campus of Luther College in Decorah with Rev. Steven M. Jacobsen officiating.
Frank was born on March 19, 1918, in Chicago, to Esther and Frank Barth. A hard worker raised by hard working parents during the Great Depression, Frank graduated from Carl Schurz High School and then attended Luther paying tuition by working in the Business Department as well as taking many semesters off to work in Chicago to stay paid up at the Treasurer's office. It is here at Luther that he would meet his wife, Marjorie (Hove) BARTH ‘42, and acquire a taste and love for academia. Subsequent to World War II Frank found jobs for his parents at Luther - working in the campus Canteen and the Bookstore - and in the years to come many of his siblings, children and even grandchildren would follow in Frank's footsteps and attend Luther - a place of considerable prominence in Frank's life.
Frank graduated from Luther in June, 1940. Soon after, Frank and Marge would marry on Sept. 28, 1940, at the Lincoln Church in Ridgeway, Iowa, and in 1942 Frank began teaching economics and business at Luther. His eleven-year teaching career would be interrupted by three year’s service as a Naval Air Navigator in the Pacific during WWII - where he learned to use the stars in the sky, not a GPS, to find his way. After WWII and after completing his M.B.A from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., Frank became a CPA in 1947 and in 1953 left Luther and Decorah to become a financial consultant to the U.S. Post Office Department in Washington, D.C., In Oct., 1955, he returned to the Chicago area as financial vice president of Pettibone Corporation, a medium-sized manufacturer of heavy construction equipment and competitor to Caterpillar, where he would also serve on the Lake Forest school board where his children went to high school.
Frank and Marge then returned to academia in 1969 when Frank was recruited to be president of Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minn., where he would serve until 1975 with Marge as his first lady. Amidst his term, he would experience the distinguished honor of being Knighted by the King of Sweden for the college's involvement in the Nobel Prize committee and would be invited to attend the Nobel Awards Ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden. In 1977 he would come full circle and teach again at Luther College until 1990 as a professor of economics as well as serve as vice president for finance and treasurer of the college. While a teacher at Luther, it is noted that students - not just the CPA bound - loved him. A close friend and former student commented that he was the best teacher he'd ever had, at any level. Frank and Marge would retire to Sun City, Ariz., in 1990 and finally move to Dubuque in 2009 to be closer to family.
Always important to Frank's life was his faith and religion. He and Marge were always active in a church no matter where they lived - singing in the choir, serving on the church council as president or treasurer. He was also very generous, donating both time and money to many causes. In addition, Frank loved to pilot airplanes, work with numbers and was bestowed with an enormously curious mind and prodigious memory. He was always researching new topics and filled with facts, often clipping pertinent newspaper articles out of the paper and mailing them to family and friends. One of his final acts was to send an article to his son Gene that he'd read on the future plans for Iowa's famed "Field of Dreams." It arrived in their mailbox two days after he entered hospice.
Frank is survived by his wife, Marjorie, and four children, Eugene Barth and his wife Neil (Orinda, Calif.), Kathryn (BARTH) Van Dine ’67, and her husband, JIM VAN DINE ’70, (Dubuque, Iowa), Frank Barth ’69, and his wife, Melinda Haas (Vermont and New York), and James Barth ’71, (Red Wing, Minn.); four siblings: Marge (Barth) Wold ‘41, Esther Wallner, Edward Barth ’51, and James Barth. He was preceded in death by his father and mother, Frank and Esther Barth; sisters Betty Barth ‘51, Ruth (Barth) Woodall ’49; and brother, Norman Barth ‘50.
He is also survived by 10 grandchildren: Joshua Barth, Christian Barth (Laura Jane - pending), Kara Van Dine, Marc Van Dine (Rachel), Jenna Mathew (Ben), Hilary Denny (Wayne), Jason Barth, Aaron Barth (Jenna), Erika (barth) Cottrell ’95, (Pat) and Greta Barth; and by 14 great-grandchildren: Julia and Gwen Van Dine, Elias, Zach, Ainsley and Olivia Mathew, Addie and Marc Denny, Ashleigh, Kirsten and Lauren Barth, Sydney and Elsa Cottrell and Tristan Olson.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to either the Frank and Marjorie Barth Scholarship Fund at Luther College, or to Gustavus Adolphus College in memory of Frank Barth. Listed are the addresses for both Luther and Gustavus. Donations can also be made online by going to the Luther and/or Gustavus websites.
Development Office, Loyalty Hall, Luther College, 700 College Drive, Decorah, IA 52101 www.luther.edu/ or Gustavus Adolphus College, Office of Institutional Advancement, 800 West College Avenue, St. Peter, MN 56082 www.gustavus.edu/