Harold T. Barr was born in Fresno County, California
on January 6, 1899. His formative years were spent on a fruit ranch in California
and later on a farm in eastern Missouri
. He graduated from Palmyra, Missouri
High School in 1918. He served briefly in the U.S. Army in late 1918 during World War I.
Harold attended the University of Missouri where he received a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering in 1923. He worked briefly for the Avery Tractor and Thresher Machine Company in Peoria, Illinois and for the Richard-Wilcox Company in Kansas City, Missouri before beginning his teaching and research career in 1924 at the University of Arkansas where he served as an instructor of Agricultural Engineering. An important life event occurred during his time at the University of Arkansas. He met Faye Dearing in the spring of 1924 and they were married on August 20th of that year. They remained a happy bride and groom until Harold’s death in 1990. Their two daughters, Alma Faye Barr and Narlene Wallace Barr were born in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The Harold T. Barr Memorial Scholarship is given annually (February) to an outstanding junior that is enrolled as a full-time student. Selection is based on a minimum GPA of 3.0 and the amount of financial support needed. Contact your undergraduate advisor for an application.
By taking some courses at the University of Arkansas and by going to school during the summers, Harold earned a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Engineering from Iowa State University in 1928. In August 1929, he and his family moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he was employed as an Assistant Professor of Agricultural Engineering at Louisiana State University. LSU would be the institution where he would spend the remainder of a productive and distinguished professional career. His early days at LSU were spent working one-half time teaching and one-half time doing research. Professor E. B. Doran was both his department head and co-worker. Among his early research projects was a cooperative venture with the International Harvester Company to adapt their PTO-driven combine to the harvesting of rice at the Rice Research Station in Crowley, Louisiana.
In 1931, Harold checked out a University car from the Dean's office for a trip to Crowley only to find that it had no fuel and a flat tire. Upon reporting this to the Dean, he was handed the keys to all six University cars and told to take care of them in Agricultural Engineering. In 1995, the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department still operates what is now the LSU Agricultural Center's motor pool.
Harold was assigned to full-time research when Professor W. H. (Nick) Carter was hired in 1936. Building on his earlier experience, he designed and supervised the construction of buildings at the Crowley, St. Joseph and Calhoun Experiment Stations. Thus, he could be considered the first "Experiment Station Engineer". In addition to the Experiment Station buildings, he privately designed and built thirty-five houses in Baton Rouge, including the Barr family home in College Town where he and his family lived until his death.
Harold and Wiley Poole conducted research on refrigerating train-car loads of strawberries being shipped from Louisiana in 1937 and 1938. In subsequent years, Harold conducted a variety of investigations including research on flame cultivation, animal waste lagoons, structural member and fastener design, rice storage and drying, farm fencing, and mechanization of many agricultural operations, particularly in cotton and sugar cane production. He served as Head of Agricultural Engineering Research (a separate department at that time) from 1936 to 1956.
During World War II he was put in charge of the gasoline rationing program for the College of Agriculture and later inspected food dehydration plants for the Army in several southern states. After the War, he provided advice for the creation of the Louisiana Anhydrous Ammonia Commission, its rules and regulations. He was involved as a consulting engineer with the Commission until he retired. He designed and supervised a A.S.M.E. - approved test facility at LSU to test and rate NH3 safety valves and fittings. This facility was continuously certified and in use until about 1980. The work of Harold Barr and others who followed him, through the operation of this testing facility, saved lives and prevented injuries by insuring that safe equipment was sold to farmers who were using anhydrous ammonia.
While Barr was head of Agricultural Engineering Research, the 1946 Louisiana Legislature appropriated $350,000 for an Agricultural Engineering Building to be designed by A. Hays Towne, a Baton Rouge architect. After several delays, the building was completed in 1949 and dedicated, with a rare covering of snow, in 1950 in conjunction with a meeting of the Southwest Section of ASAE. The building presently serves the Biological and Agricultural Engineering program and is named in honor of E. B. Doran, Barr's mentor and department head for many years.
Harold succeeded Professor Doran as Head of the teaching and research functions of the Agricultural Engineering Department in 1956, a position he held until his retirement on June 30, 1969. He devoted nearly 40 years of successive service, teaching, research innovation, and guiding of younger engineers during his career. Among his many honors were membership in Alpha Zeta, Gamma Sigma Delta, and Phi Kappa Phi. He was a member of the Acacia Social Fraternity. He was a registered professional engineer in Louisiana and one of the first Agricultural Engineers to become a member of the Louisiana Engineering Society. He was a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, and the American Society for Engineering Education. He was accorded the highest honor of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers by being elected to the grade of Fellow in 1966. He authored or co-authored thirty-one bulletins and forty technical papers, many of which formulated the basic engineering principles that today's food and fiber production systems are built upon.
Beyond the technical accomplishments, Harold was a warm and personable man. His influence on countless young engineering students and researchers cannot be measured. He supported, guided and encouraged new faculty as they developed their careers. He encouraged innovation. He devoted time to the University Methodist Church and to his family. He loved to play golf with his friends, especially when he found golf balls lost by other players. He was active in and supportive of the LSU Faculty Club. He was an accomplished engineer, a gentleman, and a family man who devoted his life to engineering developments that would make food production easier, safer and more efficient.
After a long and active retirement with his wife, Faye, Harold T. Barr died in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on December 15, 1990.