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Elmer (Flip) Phillips, Barlow Ware and Arthur Mintz at Cornell football game, 1999

From left, Elmer "Flip" Phillips '32, Barlow Ware '47 and Arthur Mintz '71 at a Cornell football game against Fordham, Sept. 25, 1999.

Tribute: Consummate Cornellian Barlow Ware '47

"Good evening, hockey fans!" It's how I've started every game I've announced since I took over the Lynah Rink PA announcer's job in 1987. (OK, not every game; the ones that start in the afternoon get "Good afternoon, hockey fans!") The phrase has become an integral part of Cornell hockey tradition. But I didn't originate it. I just kept it going.

Barlow Ware with microphone, 1979

Barlow Ware, microphone in hand, 1979. Photo by Jon Crispin.

Credit for the phrase goes to Barlow Ware '47, who took over as public address announcer when "Stretch" DePew departed in 1958, and held the job until an automobile accident forced him to give it up after the 1986 season. Barlow passed away at the age of 86 Dec. 19, 2011, and it's appropriate that we recognize the contributions this extraordinary man made to Cornell Athletics in particular and Cornell University in general.

Barlow was best known as the voice of Lynah Rink hockey, Schoellkopf Field football and several other sports. In 1983 he told me how he got started as Lynah's PA announcer: "Ben Mintz '43 [then director of sports information, and no relation to me] just asked me as a friend if I'd be willing to try my hand at it, and I said, 'Certainly. You can kick me out if I'm no good.'"

He must have been pretty good, since he stayed on the job nearly 30 years.

And how did he come up with the catchphrase "Good evening, hockey fans?" "I started with it right from the beginning," he said. "It just seemed natural to me and I kept it."

Said Dave Wohlhueter, who retired in 1998 after 21 years as Cornell's director of athletic communication: "Barlow was the consummate pro. You never had to worry about his announcing performance. … After his announcing days were finished, he still enjoyed hanging around the football press box. His smile was infectious, and he was always ready for a good laugh."

But Barlow was much more than an announcer. He grew up on Manhattan's Upper East Side in a socially prominent family of doctors, bankers and lawyers, but he wanted to take his life in a different direction. He matriculated at Cornell in 1943, in the College of Agriculture. "I was first interested in agronomy," he told the Ithaca Journal in 1968. "Then I switched to agricultural economics. I had a yearning to be connected with the U.S. Department of Agriculture."

Barlow Ware

Barlow Ware '47

At Cornell, Barlow played on the soccer team as a freshman and spent four years as the varsity manager of the wrestling team. He participated in the drama club, student government, the Octagon Club and dressed in the Big Red Bear mascot costume at home football games.

But once he took a hands-on course in agriculture, he was shocked to discover what farming really meant. His ambitions changed. He received a Bachelor of Science from the College of Agriculture in 1947, and went to work for the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (the A&P grocery chain) as an advertising manager.

In 1955, Barlow returned to his alma mater as associate director of development, launching an alumni relations and fundraising career that spanned more than half a century. In 1986 he became director of special projects in the development office. He "retired" from the university in 1996 but continued to work as a volunteer for another 11 years. Cornell honored him in 2007 with the Frank H.T. Rhodes Award for Exemplary Alumni Service for his long-term service to a variety of alumni organizations.

Barlow volunteered for four decades as a track and field official and was a generous supporter of Cornell athletics; he made a significant gift to the Schoellkopf Field press box completed in 1986, and its media level is dedicated in his honor. He was inducted into the Cornell Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003. A stone bench outside of the main entrance to Teagle Hall honors Barlow's love of Cornell athletics.

Barlow also was a leader and officer of his class, a volunteer and mentor to Chi Phi fraternity and historian of the Quill and Dagger Society alumni association. A generous contributor to numerous areas of the university, Barlow bequeathed the bulk of his estate to the Department of Athletics and Physical Education.

Barlow opened his home to new coaches and visiting parents of athletes. Scott Thompson, former Cornell men's basketball coach, once described Barlow as "the 'welcome wagon' to many coaches and athletic staff."

One of the many lifelong friends Barlow made among his houseguests was Bill Doran, whose son, Mike Doran '67, came to play hockey for coach Ned Harkness. Bill later scouted talent in the Toronto area and steered many fine hockey players to Cornell, and when he died in 1983, Barlow donated pewter trays to be given for the Bill Doran Sportsmanship Award.

"Cornell became Barlow's family and men's hockey will always be indebted to him," said Sue Detzer, treasurer of the Cornell Hockey Association.

Another whose life Barlow touched was Dick Bertrand '70, tri-captain of Cornell's undefeated 1970 men's hockey NCAA championship team and later the team's head coach for 12 years.

"My recollections of Barlow Ware are vivid, even after 30 years," Bertrand said. "Home games at Lynah and Barlow Ware were synonymous. Barlow's booming voice, contagious smile and chuckle, curling hat, and heavy long brown coat with a fur collar would traditionally [appear at] the door to my office before starting home games for player scratches and starting line-ups."

Jim Roberts '71, editor and publisher of Cornell Alumni Magazine, said "Barlow would stop into my office every once in a while, and he'd start telling some long story involving some aspect of Cornell … every time Barlow stopped by, I would learn something about Cornell that I didn't know before."

Announcer. Fundraiser. Adviser. Mentor. Host. Storyteller. Such was the life of this extraordinary Cornellian.

Arthur Mintz '71 has been Lynah Rink's public address announcer since 1987.

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