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Barrett, Marvin Galbraith

Category: Writer

 
 

Marvin Galbraith Barrett was born in Des Moines, USA on May 6th 1920 and died August 19th 2006, aged 86. 

Barrett was an American author and educator known as an authority on broadcast journalism. 

Barrett also worked as a contributing editor to TIME and Newsweek magazines, as well as being executive editor of Show Business Illustrated, and managing editor of Show Magazine

For many years, Barrett was the director of the DuPont-Columbia Survey of Broadcast Journalism. He received the Sigma Delta Chi Award for distinguished journalism for its 1975 report Moments of Truth

In the latter part of his life Barrett lived with his wife  in New York City and Water Mill, Long Island.

 

The spiritual experiences of Marvin Barrett

Barrett is on the site because a near death experience in 1984 inspired him to keep journals, and resulted in his 1999 book Second Chance: A Life After Death.  But his biographical books are of interest in their own right, as they show that even when you are 63, - an author, senior lecturer, husband, father of four grown children, and heart patient, - and are told you have cancer, it is not the end. 

 

In Spare Days, Barrett selects from a journal he kept over the next six months. The book details his experiences and perceptions along with his memories of a rich and resonant life. “A must for anyone facing a life threatening disease or knowing and loving someone who is”.  He may have been helped by doctors, but it was his mental state that was key.

It is worth adding that Barrett was also a longtime contributing editor for Parabola – a ‘magazine of myth, spirituality and tradition’.  Furthermore he was, as he describes it in Spare Days,  ‘a sometime member of a Gurdjieff group that met every Thursday evening to explore ways of spiritual growth’ and he was ‘a practising Episcopalian, taking daily rather than weekly communion’.  Barrett had a very strong sense of ‘God’.

Life

New York Times – August 22nd 2006 – Margalit Fox

Marvin Barrett, an educator and authority on broadcast journalism whose best known books describe his struggles with serious illness and how those struggles became occasions for spiritual discovery, died Saturday at his home in Manhattan.  He was 86.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said his wife, Mary Ellin.

From 1968 to 1984, Mr Barrett was a senior lecturer at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.  He was for many years the director of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for broadcast journalism, which the school administers.

 

Mr Barrett wrote several books on broadcasting, including Rich News, Poor News [Crowell 1988], and The Eye of the Storm [Lippincott and Crowell, 1980, with Zachary Sklar].

He also wrote two highly personal memoirs. 

His first – Spare Days [1988] – chronicles his experience with life threatening illness.  When he was in his early 60s and already living with heart disease, he found he had cancer. 

He did two restorative things immediately; he went to Baskin-Robbins for ice cream, and he began a journal, which became the core of his book.

Mr Barrett’s last memoir: Second Chance:  A Life after Death [1999] had its roots in another journal, which he began after a near death experience in which his heart stopped briefly.

Mary Ellin Barrett (Berlin) herself
an author and book critic

Barrett’s father, Edwin, was a radio actor and taught communications at Drake University.

Barrett graduated from Harvard University in 1942.

He returned to school more than three decades later earning a Master’s in English from Drake in 1976. 

He served in the United States Navy from 1942 to 1946.

He married Mary Ellin Berlin [November 25, 1926] in 1952, daughter of Irving Berlin and they had four children – Elizabeth, Mary, Irving, and Katherine, and six grandchildren. 

Marvin Barrett's books include both novels and those where he acted as the editor and compiler under the auspices of the DuPont-Columbia Survey of Broadcast Journalism.:

  • Meet Thomas Jefferson (1967)
  • The Politics of Broadcasting (1973) – as editor
  • Moments of Truth (1975)
  • The End of the Party (1976) – a novel
  • The Jazz Age
  • The Years Between
  • Rich News, Poor News (1978)
  • The Eye of the Storm (with Zachary Sklar, 1980)
  • Broadcast Journalism, 1979-1981 (editor, 1982) – as editor
  • Spare Days (1988)
  • Second Chance: A Life After Death (1999)
 

Book review from healingbase.com

"The fifteen years since I died have been the best in my life," says Marvin Barrett, the author of Second Chance: A Life After Death.

This, despite two coronaries, a stroke, lymphoma, prostate cancer, congestive heart failure and the cardiac arrest which caused his NDE at 63 in 1984. Some of Barrett's conclusions after 15 years of senior living:

  • Every negative experience in one's later years, sickness, loss of faculties, etc., is accompanied by a positive revelation
  • Wisdom and sympathy for one's fellow man and woman grow with each year
  • Peak experiences are more characteristic of the last quarter of one's life than the first three
  • Shame is a thing of the past, along with fear and dread and disappointment. The old are shameless, fearless, indomitable, or if they aren't, should and will be
  • Wonder returns to the old. There is a new vision of nature, a new understanding and sympathy for animal and human creation
  • The present takes over for the old---regret for the past fades away and apprehension about the future. Life is a minute by minute revelation
  • There is a realization as the great traditions teach us of the sacredness of every second, every action and thought
  • It is a great relief in old age to realize there is no need to be better than one's fellows, brighter, more handsome or beautiful, richer, more talented, and the disappointment and frustration at being less of these things that one may have felt fades away. Age is a great equalizer, not because we are all ground down by it, but because it reduces us to what we have always been---children of God---at the same time that it establishes us as everybody's equal. Old age is the real democracy

 

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