Joseph Holleman Barlow Sr.

Published 5:14 pm Friday, April 28, 2023

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Joseph Holleman Barlow Sr., 94, died April 27, 2023. He was born on July 21, 1928, the middle child of five born to Gladys and Gordon Barlow. He grew up in Smithfield on Oak Crest Farm and attended Smithfield High School, becoming class president of the class of 1946. He earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from Virginia Tech, class of 1950.

After graduation, he was a territory manager for John Deere, serving the Eastern Shore from Virginia to Delaware. In 1953, he married Margaret Taylor of Suffolk after she graduated from Longwood College. He served in the Air Force, assigned to the Office of Special Investigations in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1959, he purchased Cotton Plains Farm near Chuckatuck from Junius Batten. On Cotton Plains, he raised peanuts, corn, soybeans, cattle and hogs as well as his three children, assorted dogs, many cats, a few sheep, one horse and chickens.

In addition to farming, he offered his time for community service and was often chosen for leadership roles, such as president of the State Board of Agriculture, chairman of the Suffolk School Board, Board of Visitors of Virginia Tech, First Citizen of Suffolk, governor of the Jamestowne Society and Suffolk City Council. He was a lifelong member of Smithfield Baptist Church and regularly attended Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church.

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He was predeceased by his parents, Gladys Holleman Barlow and Gordon Eugene Barlow; his brothers, Gene and Billy K. and his first wife, the mother of his children, Margaret.

He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Lynn Barlow; his sisters, Hannah Bain of Wakefield and Sarah Wright of Smithfield; sister-in-law, Taylor Barlow; his children, Nancy Alwood (David) of Midlothian, Jo Anne Mathus (Bill) of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, Joseph H. Barlow Jr. (Shelley) of Cotton Plains Farm and his five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

The family wishes to thank Shelia Beacham and her team of caregivers for their tireless, compassionate care of our entire family in his final months.

There is a visitation from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday, May 1, and a funeral service to celebrate his life at 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 2, both are at R. W. Baker Funeral Home, 509 W. Washington St. His burial at Holly Lawn Cemetery is private. Online condolences may be registered at