Robert S. Barron, a retired Baltimore County Public Schools social studies teacher who had coached Sparrows Point High School’s It’s Academic team, has died

Robert S. Barron, a retired Baltimore County Public Schools social studies teacher who coached Sparrows Point High School’s “It’s Academic” team, was found dead Aug. 15 near his Freeland residence. He was 69.

”He was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office who said there were no signs of foul play and the cause of death was cardiovascular disease,” said his wife of 48 years, Valerie Ann Barron, a retired registered nurse, who had worked at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Sinai Hospital.


Robert Stanislaus Barron, the only child of Polish parents, was born in Baltimore to Melvin Adam Barron, a Baltimore City police officer who later became security officer for the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, and his wife, Antoinette Balcerak Barron, a shirt factory worker.

Raised in the city’s Belair-Edison neighborhood, Catholicism played a major role in his life.


Mr. Barron was a communicant of Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church and attended its parochial school where he excelled as a student. He chose Archbishop Curley High School, which was within walking distance from his childhood home, for its excellent academic reputation, family members said.

Being too young to drive to his junior prom meant that Mr. Barron had to double-date with a friend who could drive. It ended with him eventually falling in love with his friend’s date, the former Valerie Ann Lewis, who was a student at Curley’s sister school, Catholic High.

It was her mother that urged her to attend the prom.

She said, ‘Go, you might like the other guy,’ and that’s how it happened,” Mrs. Barron said. By the time the senior prom rolled around, they were a couple and in love. They married in 1974.

At Curley, he developed a passion for social studies and teaching. He also became a superb debater, helping the debate team achieve many victories. A knack for trivia led him to a position on the TV show “It’s Academic,” which lasted for several of his high school years.

Robert S. Barron enjoyed long road trips.

“We were classmates at Curley and Bob was always a good student,” said the Rev. Donald Grzymski, the school’s current president. “And he became a dedicated teacher and I heard that time and time again from the various schools where he had taught.”

He described Mr. Barron as “outgoing and friendly.”

“We met as freshmen in high school, and I remember when Bob was a member of the Future Teachers of America. He just always wanted to be a teacher,” recalled Paul B. Anderson. “He was easygoing and not a big athletic guy, but he was a huge Orioles fan. He always kept things under control and was even-tempered. He was just looked upon highly.”


Mr. Barron attended what is now Loyola University Maryland on a full academic scholarship and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1973 in history with a minor in social studies. He later earned a master’s degree in history from the Johns Hopkins University.

He began teaching in Baltimore Public Schools, and after six months, joined the faculty of Patapsco Sr. High School in 1974 where he taught for five years. From 1979 until 2000, he taught at Sparrows Point Senior High school and spent the last 16 years of his career at Loch Raven Senior High School before retiring in 2016.

Baltimore County Executive John A. Olszewski Jr. had been an AP U.S. History student of Mr. Barron at Sparrows Point.

“Mr. Barron had a curiosity for learning and challenging us to examine the world differently,” Mr. Olszewski said. “He had care and compassion for his students and a love of history that really showed through. It was a gift that he could engage us in history and make it come alive without movies or fancy graphics. He was very old school that way and he could connect it to our high school lives. I am much better for having him as my history teacher.”

He added that Mr. Barron was “a very unassuming person” who would get very excited about the material he was teaching and “become larger than life.”

Mr. Olszewski was also a member of the school’s “It’s Academic” team that was coached by Mr. Barron.


Mr. Anderson said, “I know when he was at Sparrows Point he was always the first guy there, and considering where he lived in Baltimore County, Bob was a real road warrior.”

At Patapsco, it was Mr. Barron who coordinated the morning and afternoon arrival of school buses and enjoyed greeting students and drivers. At the school, he accompanied the “It’s Academic” team to a local TV station where the show was taped.

“I never saw him upset and he loved sharing his knowledge of social studies with his students,” said Father Grzymski. “He had high expectations but wanted only the best for them.”

In addition to teaching social studies, he taught government, health and psychology, Mrs. Barron said.

“Bob incorporated his high school debating skills, serving as coach and exploring new opportunities. In the classroom, he employed humor and dramatic renderings to bring history alive for his appreciative students,” according to a biographical profile submitted by his family. “One of his mottos was, ‘I never take myself too seriously.’”

In addition to his busy academic life, Mr. Barron always made time to call parents, worked with students who had challenges, attended PTA meetings and after school events.


He derived great personal satisfaction in helping students prepare for special tests, especially those who were seeking Advance Placement credits in topics that related to social studies from particular historical periods, as well as AP exams in psychology and economics.

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For many years, he spent Saturday mornings helping prepare students who were going to take the GED exam.

Mr. Barron, who had never flown in an airplane and occasionally traveled by train, preferred long road trips where he enjoyed stopping and visiting presidential libraries.

Mr. Barron maintained a genuine fondness for children throughout his lifetime and cherished the idea that teachers can make a difference in their lives.

“”Robert Stanislaus Barron affected the lives of many children. He delighted them with his humor, his fondness for any pun, his use of words and in his kindness,” according to a family profile. “He inspired learning and encouraged a multitude of career choices. His students have pursed paths in education, music and song writing, restaurant management and political office.

“Children delighted in Bob in infancy through high school. Always ready to play peekaboo, read a story, toss a ball or correct your paper. Ever enthusiastic and with praise.”


A Mass of Christian Burial was offered Aug. 20 at Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church in Parkton where he was a communicant.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Barron is survived by two sons, Theodore R. “Teddy” Barron of Freeland and Alexander S. “Alex” Barron of London.