Supreme Court

Former justices

Elmer E. Barlow (1887-1948)

Elmer E. Barlow

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice (1942-1948)

"To his wide knowledge of the law and of its application to practical affairs he added a sympathetic understanding of the background out of which controversies arose, and foresaw the effect of the court's decision upon the life of the parties and the public." - Chief Justice Marvin B. Rosenberry, Barlow's memorial service (1948)

Elmer Elbert Barlow was born May 18, 1887, on a small farm in Arcadia, Wisconsin. Barlow attended the University of Wisconsin and was the catcher on its baseball team which toured Japan in 1909. When Barlow graduated from law school in 1909, he turned down offers to become a professional baseball player to pursue a career in law.

Barlow practiced law in La Crosse until 1939, when he was appointed executive counsel to Governor Julius P. Heil. A short time later, Heil appointed Barlow state tax commissioner. He was known for reorganizing and efficiently administrating the tax department. Although he had no previous judicial experience, Barlow was appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1942. Barlow won election to the Court in 1945, beating Secretary of State Fred Zimmerman, a great voter-getter, but a non-lawyer.

Chief Justice Marvin B. Rosenberry said of his work on the Court: "When Judge Barlow spoke for the court he carefully and accurately reflected his view that the opinion of the court is the composite of the contributions of each of its members...his judgment and understanding made his exposition of the problems in a particular case a genuine contribution to the decision." Barlow was active at the University of Wisconsin. He served on the Athletic Board, was a director of the University of Wisconsin Foundation and was president of the Law School Alumni Association. Barlow was married to Kate Clausen. They had two children, Elizabeth and Robert. Kate died in 1930. He married Anna Wohlgenant in 1937. Barlow died unexpectedly of a heart attack while playing golf on June 26, 1948.

Back to former justices