C. Barus, 71, Professor And Activist

Posted: November 01, 1990

Carl Barus, 71, a former Swarthmore College engineering professor and a longtime political activist who helped organize a rally for the homeless four days before he went into the hospital for open-heart surgery, died Monday at Hahnemann University Hospital of complications from the surgery.

Mr. Barus was a Swarthmore resident and a professor emeritus of engineering at Swarthmore. He taught from 1952 until he retired in 1985.

At Swarthmore, Mr. Barus created a course titled "Ethics and Values in Science and Technology" in which he warned that engineers and scientists were too inattentive to the ecological consequences of their work.

"He was very socially aware," said Lynne Molter, an assistant professor of engineering at Swarthmore and a former student of Mr. Barus'. "I never heard him complain. If he was unhappy about something, he did something about it," Molter said. "He never slowed down. He continued to pursue his goals even after retirement."

Born in South Orange, N.J., Mr. Barus received a bachelor's degree in physics in 1941 from Brown University, where the physics building is named after his grandfather, Carl Barus, a former professor of physics.

After serving during World War II as an officer on the battleship USS Indiana, in charge of radar and other electronic equipment, Mr. Barus went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a master's degree in electrical engineering. While a student, Mr. Barus did research at MIT and at the Raytheon Manufacturing Co. on development of guided missiles.

It didn't go over well with Mr. Barus.

"He found it difficult to go to meetings about eliminating personnel, which was a euphemism for a guided missle hitting a target, and then come home to young sons," said his wife of 46 years, the former Barbara Sage.

His disenchantment led to his move to Swarthmore, a school founded by Quakers, that Mr. Barus felt would be more open to peaceful uses of science and technology.

In the 1950s, Mr. Barus joined the American Civil Liberties Union and participated in many demonstrations against preparation for nuclear and biological warfare, such as a vigil at Fort Detrick, Md., a principal site of biological warfare development.

In 1966, Mr. Barus, a political novice, ran for Congress in the Seventh District's Democratic primary. He campaigned against the Vietnam War, against pollution and for civil rights. He lost by a better than 3-1 ratio to the party-backed candidate, John J. Logue, but not before he had his say.

"This is a unique situation," Mr. Barus said of the Vietnam War in 1966. ''The government is proceeding without the full support of the people (in

Vietnam). This issue is a sleeper."

During the early 1960s, and again in the late '70s, Mr. Barus served as a visiting professor in Nigeria. When he returned to Swarthmore, he struck up many friendships with African students studying at Swarthmore and opened his home to them.

"It was just a home away from home for an awful lot of students," said Mary Ellen Chijioke, curator of the Friends Historical Library on the Swarthmore campus and the wife of a former Nigerian professor. "He was a remarkably warm and committed person."

Besides his wife, he is survived by sons William, Peter and Maxwell; three grandchildren, and two stepgrandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Friends Meeting House on the Swarthmore campus.

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