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STANFORD -- Thomas Swain Barclay, who taught political science to five U.S. senators and countless other Stanford University students over three decades, died Tuesday, Dec. 21, at Channing House in Palo Alto. He was 101.
"Tom Barclay was one of those great, early New Deal liberals imbedded in conservative Stanford" of the 1930s, said Najeeb Halaby, Class of '37, now of suburban Washington, D.C. "There are lots of others like me who really respected him, loved him and were motivated to public service by him, " Halaby said.
Halaby said he went into private business but because of Barclay, public service has been an important focus of his life. He headed the Federal Aviation Administration during the Kennedy years and now chairs three private volunteer organizations.
"Because of [Tom Barclay], I went to 10 national [political] conventions," Ellen Louise Marcus of Menlo Park and Class of '46, said in 1992 when a fund to honor Barclay was organized at Stanford by Halaby.
Inspired by Barclay's teaching and enthusiasm for grass-roots politics, Marcus said she went to Washington after earning a master's degree from Stanford to work for the Democratic National Committee. She later became its press secretary as well as a national convention delegate from Virginia.
Among Barclay's students were many who became active as judges and lawyers and five who became U.S. senators: Frank Church, Mark O. Hatfield, Lee Metcalf, Alan Cranston and Henry "Scoop" Jackson.
"I did urge students to go to Washington," Barclay recalled in a 1992 interview. Pleased that his former students had set up a fund in his honor that would pay living expenses for Stanford professors who teach in the university's Stanford-in-Washington Program, Barclay recalled that there was no such formal program during his active years on campus. "Stanford was much smaller then," he said.
He said he encouraged his students to take jobs or volunteer in Washington because "I had started, myself, in Washington as a graduate student in the Division of Manuscripts at the Library of Congress, and later, I was a fellow at the Brookings Institution. I went back whenever I could, " he recalled.
Barclay, who was born Jan. 26, 1892, into a politically active Democratic family in St. Louis, said he never considered becoming a Republican, even though he occasionally voted for Republicans for office. (Herbert Hoover, he once said, was a role model on campus for Republican students while he was one for Democrats.)
Barclay received A.B. and A.M. degrees in political science from the University of Missouri and earned a doctorate at Columbia University, as well as an honorary doctorate of law from the University of Missouri for his accomplishments as a teacher, scholar and student of politics and government.
Barclay served at the Versailles conference of 1918 as secretary to Henry White, head of the U.S. delegation. He taught at the University of Missouri from 1922 to 1927, when he joined the faculty of Stanford's political science department. His scholarly interests were focused on party politics, the legislative process and the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, and he was known as a sparkling lecturer who peppered his classes with colorful anecdotes from his experience as a national Democratic committeeman.
During World War II, Barclay served on both the California and national enemy hearing boards.
He was a member of the Society of California Pioneers, and the Bohemian and Cosmos clubs. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a longtime secretary of Stanford's chapter of that organization. He retired from Stanford in 1957.
Barclay, who never married, was the uncle of Julia D'Arcy Scott and George Barclay D'Arcy of St. Louis, Mo.; John D'Arcy of Geneva, Ill.; and the late Kate D'Arcy Reinhard. Services in St. Louis will be private.
Memorials in his honor may be sent to the Thomas S. Barclay Faculty Fund for Stanford-In-Washington, 301 Encina Hall, Stanford, Ca., 94305-6076.
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