World War II veteran Irvin S. Barrow, who sold real estate and insurance and delivered The Blade after selling milk door-to-door for 33 years, died Saturday at Lutheran Village in Wolf Creek, Springfield Township. He was 89.
Mr. Barrow, who had lived in the retirement community since 2010, died in his sleep, said his son, Craig Barrow, who didn’t know the cause of his father’s death.
“My expectation is that he died from heart failure,” he said. “He died in his sleep, which was always his wish.”
Mr. Barrow joined Babcock Dairy in 1949 after working as a laborer for Toledo Scale. He delivered milk in a truck to customers in East Toledo, Rossford, and Perrysburg Township. He began the route at 6:30 a.m. and delivered to 80 customers a day, sometimes working shifts of 10 to 12 hours.
Mr. Barrow said his father had one of the dairy’s largest sales routes.
Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn’s parents were among his customers . Mr. Wasylyshyn said Mr. Barrow allowed him to accompany him in the delivery truck as he drove through their Rossford neighborhood, beginning when he was 4 or 5 years old.
He said he took a lunch that his mother packed and after completing the route, they would stop at a convenient spot in the neighborhood and eat.
“We would sit in his truck and eat lunch,” he said. “I would go with him on the route. I got to know all the neighbors. He was a positive influence and a wonderful man.”
The twice-a-week trips, usually during the summers and school breaks, continued through his early teens. Mr. Barrow became close friends with the sheriff and his family, and was invited to Mr. Wasylyshyn’s wedding and his annual family reunions as well as other gatherings.
“He was a true gentleman and very easy going. We always had great conversations,” he said.
Mr. Barrow, who represented his co-workers as a steward in the Teamsters union, was dedicated to his customers and the company, his son said.
“He worked very hard. He came home from his route and balanced his books to make sure the inventory he had in the truck matched what he billed to his customers,” he said. “He was very conscientious on how well the dairy did.”
When Babcock Dairy closed its doors in 1982, Mr. Barrow, who went by Irv or Curly, obtained a real-estate license and also sold insurance.
“He was quite successful at selling insurance and real estate, then faded into the background,” Mr. Barrow said.
When one of his grandsons became a carrier for The Blade, Mr. Barrow helped him with the route.
“The whole idea of the paper route was he wanted his grandson to learn responsibility. He encouraged him to do that,” Mr. Barrow said.
In the 1990s, Mr. Barrow took over the route and got a second one. His son said he enjoyed the exercise and meeting people.
“He just loved to interact with people. He was the consummate people’s person. I can never recall anyone who didn’t love my dad,” his son said.
Mr. Barrow grew up in West Toledo and attended DeVilbiss High School. He was drafted into the Army and assigned to the 324th Infantry Regiment, part of the 44th Infantry Division.
Mr. Craig said his father drove a supply truck and transported artillery guns. He participated in the Battle of the Bulge in support of Gen. George Patton’s Third Army.
He said his father, impressed with the devotion of Roman Catholic soldiers who attended Mass everyday, converted and was baptized by a Catholic chaplain in a field outside Saint-Lo, France, on Sept. 8, 1944.
After his Army discharge in 1945, Mr. Barrow returned to Toledo and married Rosemary Gill on June 28, 1947. She died June 31, 2006.
The couple had homes in West Toledo near St. Ann’s Church, Old Orchard, and Windermere Condos on Bancroft Street, where Mr. Barrow was supervisor of maintenance at the complex, a job he had until he moved into Lutheran Village.
“My father said he was fortunate that he was born poor, because he learned to work hard,” his son said.
Surviving are his daughter, Sandra Harding; son, Craig Barrow; brother, James Barrow; four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Sujkowski Funeral Home Northpointe, 114 E. Alexis Rd., where a Scripture service will be held at 7 p.m.
The funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Thursday in Gesu Catholic Church.
The family suggest tributes to Lutheran Village in Wolf Creek.