Cross-Cultural, Urban, Reformed, Ecumenical

In Memoriam: Charles Herbert Barrow


Charles Herbert Barrow, an Evanston resident for more than 50 years, died on August 31st at age 90. The cause was pancreatic cancer.

Born in Oak Park in 1930 to Franklin and Ardis Barrow, Charles was a thoughtful, erudite, and generous man. He instilled loyalty and gratitude in everyone he encountered and often disarmed with his sardonic wit and self-deprecating humor.

After graduating cum laude from Princeton University in 1952, Charles joined the Northern Trust Bank in Chicago. He began his 34-year career there as a junior credit analyst. By 1981, he had risen to lead that multi-national institution as its President and a member of its Board of Directors. One of his proudest accomplishments was orchestrating the global expansion of the Bank in the 1960s, opening up branches across Europe. This experience instilled in him a passion for travel, which he shared with his beloved wife Patsy – and translated into many adventures across the globe.

After a brief and unfulfilling fling with retirement in 1986, Charles embarked on a second successful career as an investment banker. Joining Kemper Securities, he quickly saw success on the other side of the Glass-Steagall wall, rising to Managing Director and serving as head of the Financial Institutions Group until his official retirement in 2008.

As impressive as his professional successes were, what made Charles really special was his unstinting personal commitment to the broader community, reflected in over six decades of volunteer service. In the 1960s and 1970s, he was involved with the Planned Parenthood Association of Chicago, the Rehabilitation Institute, and the Princeton Club of Chicago, all of which he served for two terms and also as Board Chairman. Charles' 25-year commitment to the McCormick Theological Seminary included a term as Chairman, during which he presided over the installation of the first woman to head a Presbyterian Seminary. In 1997, he was awarded the Princeton Club of Chicago's Distinguished Community Service Award.

Charles met the love of his life, Patsy, when they were sophomores at Oak Park High School. Their partnership was a seven decades-long tale of mutual love, respect, support, and devotion. When Patsy died in January 2020, he lost the person he admired most in the world. Charles was the unofficial family patriarch, generously welcoming the extended family into his home and never hesitating to lend a helping hand.

Charles was a skilled fisherman, a crack croquet player, a passionate amateur landscape architect, and an avid sailor. A member of the Pentwater Yacht Club, he spent his summers in Pentwater, Michigan and winters in Key Largo, Florida.

Charles is survived by three daughters, Paula Danoff and her husband Jeff of Winnetka, IL, Carla Barrow of Winnetka, IL, and Barb Achenbaum and her husband Jon of New Canaan, CT. He was the proud grandfather of Charlie Danoff, Jeffrey (Ashley) Danoff, John Ford, Will Ford, Julie (Gabi) Achenbaum, Amy Achenbaum, and Anne Achenbaum. He was overjoyed when the family welcomed two great-grandchildren this past spring, Piper Danoff and Finn Achenbaum Carr.

A private family service is planned. Memorial gifts may be directed to the Evanston Art Center ( or to the McCormick Theological Seminary, 5460 S. University, Chicago, IL 60615 (

To share memories or condolences, visit his obituary at the Chicago Tribune.