Posted: 11:00 p.m. Thursday, April 17, 2014

Former Sun editor dies at 87

By Kermit Rowe

Staff Writer

SPRINGFIELD —

Allan Barth, a former Wittenberg journalism professor and long-time Springfield News-Sun employee, died on Monday after several months of serious illness. He was 87.

A Philadelphia native, Barth came to Springfield when he was 16, graduating from Springfield High School and Wittenberg University. He was also an Army veteran who served during and after World War II in Japan.

He started with the Springfield Sun, Springfield’s former morning paper, with a summer job while attending Wittenberg. Upon graduation, he joined the paper full time, first as a reporter, then eventually as the city editor, editorial editor and then editor of the Sun. He retired in 1985.

“Al Barth was a great asset to the Springfield News-Sun, and wrote editorials with intelligence and insight,” said Bill Swaim, former long-time publisher at the News-Sun. “He met each change effectively, and with a positive attitude, and led by example for a staff that had to make those adjustments also.

“He’ll be missed not only by his former colleagues, but by the community in general.”

Tom Hawkins, a long-time friend and co-worker at the News-Sun, spoke of Barth’s influence on young writers.

“He knew Springfield, and he was very experienced … He was very smart and had an encyclopedic memory,” Hawkins said. “He could give you anyone’s phone number off the top of his head. And he was very curious. If you were running dry and didn’t have any story ideas, you sat with him for five minutes and you didn’t have that problem any more.”

His love for the written word never died. He was also adviser for Wittenberg’s student paper, The Torch, for 10 years in retirement. Most recently, he authored two books on Springfield’s history: “The History of the Van Dyke Club” and “Looking Back, Looking Forward,” written as part of the Springfield Regional Medical Center project.

Barth was the consummate teacher and wordsmith, even in his home, said Barbara Barth, his wife of 30 years.

“Allan, Mr. B or ‘my boyfriend’ through our married life, was my teacher, too,” she said. “I could ask him about history, current events, others’ opinions or the use of a specific word, and the answer was always there. A loving, caring man with a sense of humor and wry wit, he often said, ‘We’ve had a good ride.’ “

Allan Barth is survived by his wife, two sons, three stepchildren, three grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. One daughter preceded him in death.

 
 

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