Jack Barrow’s affiliation with the shop endured for 37 years. During that time, he became indispensable to Helen and then mentored Sarah into her early shop ownership.
Helen’s story has been told through kept and chronicled articles, photographs and letters from her life. The record of Jack’s contribution is told through photos of his work creating shop displays and the physical things he left behind—overalls to work in, a beautiful set of 40 drawers for displaying jewelry and a fully stocked workroom in the shop basement.
After graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in fine arts, he worked briefly at a television station before finding a job at Helen Winnemore’s in 1960. He was Helen’s first full-time employee, and in one of the rare photos we have of him standing idly, he is smiling as he poses next to the shop’s Broad Street sign beside his name: “Jak Barrow - decorator.”
1966 brought change and opportunity to Jack and the shop. At this time Helen purchased the building the shop now occupies, on the corner of Kossuth and Mohawk Streets. The building was derelict and in need of serious attention. One customer recently recalled to us how he, as a child, pried his way past the boarded up windows of the building to climb inside and use it as a hideout! With Jack’s help, they restored and remodeled the building, turning it into the welcoming space that it is today. Together, Jack covered the walls with cork for ease of displaying new works and installed gorgeous live-edge wooden shelving. The most treasured legacy of Jack’s labor is most certainly the set of 40 built-in jewelry drawers that he made with the help of his father. The drawers have been enjoyed by countless guests and are still in use today.
In the daily life of the shop, Jack went from being decorator to manager, and from minority owner to owner. He was responsible for the merchandising of the shop, creating displays for the works of featured artists, along with the artist-of-the-month exhibits. He often accompanied Helen to art shows in the pursuit of new work, and hosted staff holiday parties at his home in Marble Cliff.
As Helen aged, illness kept her from active involvement in the business. Due to Jack’s leadership, the business maintained continuous operation, for which Helen was forever grateful. When Helen died in 1996, he purchased the shop as sole owner, with the intention of finding the right person to continue the tradition. Ken Coe’s death followed Helen’s in 1997, and Jack, understandably was ready to retire. He discreetly spread word to customers that the shop was for sale, hoping for someone to carry on the work that was so important to Helen and to him. Soon after, Sarah Kellenberger Harpham would discover the opportunity, leading to her purchase of the business in 1997. Jack would serve as mentor, advisor and friend.
Though Jack was somewhat shy, he took a liking to Sarah and her husband Reade. After his retirement, he stopped by the shop twice each week to “check on the kids” and make sure things were running smoothly. Of the surprise farewell party that Sarah and her husband Reade gave in Jack’s honor, he wrote
Dear Sarah + Reade
Surprise is what I had last evening. It was so great to have most all of your friends turn out for a party for me. I will never be able to thank you enough for the beautiful dinner, but I will try.
Thanks Thanks Jack
On March 3rd, 2000, Jack Barrow died at the age of 69 after a brief illness. Ever a private man, the celebration of his life after his passing was small and personal. In his obituary, his friend of 50 years Marje Haldi described him as “self-possessed, but still shy”, and as “one of the kindest men (she’d) ever known.” We are ever grateful to Jack for his dedication to the shop. His presence is still felt in the contributions he left behind.
Jack’s legacy extends beyond his work with Helen Winnemore’s. He and his partner Ken Coe were avid art collectors, and generous supporters of the visual and performing arts in Columbus. They also traveled abroad to enjoy the arts, and Jack was noted in his obituary as having gone to London every other year in May in this pursuit. After his death, the Kenneth L. Coe and Jack Barrow Fund through The Columbus Foundation was created and donated more than $2 million for ProMusica Chamber Orchestra and Chamber music. In recent years, their fund has supported the Columbus Symphony Cares About Kids Concert, the Columbus City Schools Music Educator Award, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio and numerous other events for the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra.