In Memoriam: Dr. Fred Barge

Media Relations; Palmer Chiropractic University System

(Davenport, Iowa) Fred H. Barge, D.C., Ph.C., passed away on Wednesday, July 2, 2003, in La Crosse, Wis. A renowned chiropractic philosopher, lecturer, inventor and prolific writer, he was 70 years old. He was one of 19 chiropractors in his extended family. He was founder and president of Barge Chiropractic Publishing in La Crosse.

Chairman of the Palmer Chiropractic University System Board of Trustees Vickie Palmer said, “We have lost a great friend and a legendary presence at Palmer. My father, Dr. David Palmer, valued his friendship with Dr. Barge very much. I am glad we have the wonderful displays of artifacts and epigrams he recently helped assemble on the three Palmer campuses as a reminder of his love for Palmer College and Palmer history. His energy and great love for Palmer were boundless. No doubt he is now enjoying conversations with the other great chiropractic philosophers who preceded him in heaven.”

At the request of the Palmer Chiropractic University System Board of Trustees and Chancellor Guy F. Riekeman, D.C., the Palmer flag on campus was flown at half-mast. The Board also sent a floral tribute in memory of Dr. Barge to be displayed in the Palmer Hall of Philosophers in West Hall.

Dr. Fred Barge Dr. Barge was born on Jan. 13, 1933. In 1957, he married Audrey Thompson. He graduated from Palmer School of Chiropractic in 1954 and did postgraduate work at Logan Chiropractic College. He interned with Drs. B.J. Palmer, Clarence Gonstead and Henry Barge, then established a long-term chiropractic practice in La Crosse, Wis., in 1957.

In 1962 he was hired as a continuing education faculty member at The Fountainhead and became a visiting professor in the Division of Chiropractic Sciences in 1989. In 1998, he joined the Philosophy Department at Palmer and became a special adviser to the President’s Office. He also had visiting faculty status at New York Chiropractic College, Life Chiropractic College West, Logan Chiropractic College and Life University. He was a guest lecturer at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse for 15 years.

Palmer Chancellor Guy F. Riekeman, D.C., said, “Chiropractic has lost a warrior and Palmer has lost a prince. Fred wrote books ranging from philosophy to technique, but he will be best remembered for his Shakespearean voice, which always carried a clear and consistent message of unadulterated, principled Chiropractic. He was Palmer Proud and purple to the core of his soul. I don’t think he was ever more fulfilled than in the last five years as he moved through Palmer, brightening its history. Every student will long remember each class beginning with, ‘Good morning, fledgling chiropractors.’ And, so, to my good friend, for now … Enuf said.”

A distinguished presenter and lecturer throughout his career, he spoke on chiropractic philosophy and subluxation theory at symposia and seminars all across the United States. His papers were published by the ICA Review and other chiropractic organizations and widely distributed at many chiropractic colleges. His nine books included Wryneck (1998), Giant vs. Pygmy + Thots (1994), Scoliosis (1981), Torticollis (1979) and Tortipelvis (1976).

His inventions included the Barge Tortipelvis Bench, a line of cervical technique chairs, a cervical adjustment pillow and vertical film filing cabinets. He held patents on two devices, a reclining radiographic table and a full-spine adjusting apparatus.

He was a past president and current vice president of the International Chiropractors Association (ICA), served on the editorial board of The American Chiropractor and chaired the editorial board of Palmer’s Streams From The Fountainhead and ICA’s The Chiropractic Choice. He was a featured columnist in Dynamic Chiropractic, Today’s Chiropractic, The Beacon and the ICA Review. He was on the national advisory board of the National Back Foundation, Inc. He was active in the Palmer College of Chiropractic International Alumni Association (PCCIAA), serving as the Wisconsin alumni president in 1967 and as the association president from 1972 to 1974. He served as a Palmer College trustee from 1973 to 1982 and was also a founding member of the Palmer College of Chiropractic West Board of Trustees. In 1991 he was named a director of the campaign board for the Republican National Committee.

ICA President C.J. Mertz, D.C., said, “Dr. Barge was always one of my heroes. I was somewhat in awe of him and very proud and honored to have him run with me in the recent ICA elections. His wisdom and his vision for the future of chiropractic was an inspiration. The profession and ICA has lost a great and wonderful person, but his spirit will always be with us, because Fred was larger than life. He may be gone but he will not be forgotten.”

His vast awards included a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Chiropractic Alliance (WCA), a Lifetime Service Award from the ICA, ICA Chiropractor of the Year (1991), a Dedicated Service Award from the Illinois Prairie State Chiropractic Association, a Special Recognition Award from the Wisconsin Chiropractic Association, a Fellowship in the Palmer Academy of Chiropractic (1986) and the Daniel David Palmer Chiropractic Scientific Award (1977). He was the PCCIAA Alumnus of the Year in 1986. The Palmer student body voted him Faculty of the Year in 2000. In March the PCCIAA gave him its 2003 Faculty Achievement Award.

David B. Koch, D.C., Palmer’s vice president for Professional and International Affairs, got to know Dr. Barge over the last two years as they worked together at Palmer. Reflecting on their time together, Dr. Koch said, “Fred was such an inspiration to me. He personified the quintessential chiropractic qualities of faith in the body’s power to create and heal itself, optimism and positivity as the greatest mental tools for living, deep respect for the values and principles of chiropractic’s founders and a lifelong passion for exploring how these values translate into excellent patient care. As he worked with tireless energy on Palmer’s LCP program, and the ICA’s new Diplomate in Philosophic Chiropractic Standards, I got to watch a man for whom retirement was not an option. Why would he retire from doing the things he so loved to do? Fred embraced life to the fullest, and knew that this is what chiropractic is truly about; living your own life on your own terms. The best way we can honor his life is to carry on with his work, which is truly our own work, of bringing chiropractic to the whole world.”

Survivors include his wife and two daughters, Sally Barge Rusak, C.T., and Patricia Barge Berkley, D.C., as well as 10 grandchildren. Another daughter, Amy Barge, preceded him in death.

A private burial ceremony will be conducted in Wisconsin. Details about a memorial service at Palmer College will be released later. A memorial fund has been established by Dr. Barge’s family through the Palmer Development Office in Davenport. Memorials may also be made to the ICA.

Dr. Barge’s obituary is expected to appear in the Friday edition of the La Crosse Tribune at the following Web site: @ 11:10 am | Article ID: 1057428603