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One last time, from the top

By PAT JENKINS

The Mirror

Don Barrows means it this time. He’s retiring.

He thought that’s what he was doing once before after more than three decades as a music teacher in schools, but instead spent the next 13 years as director of the Federal Way Chorale, a community singing group.

That will end this weekend when the Chorale performs its final concerts with Barrows as its leader.

“Yes, this will be a real retirement,” said Barrows, 69 (he’ll turn 70 this fall). He and his wife, Lucille, will return to Phoenix, Ariz. for the sunshine and golf next January and February. They’re also planning a Caribbean cruise.

Stepping away from the Chorale after the final notes drift off Saturday afternoon “will be very difficult. I’m an extremely emotional person,” Barrows said. “It’s been a lot of years, a lot of fun, a lot of good friends.”

Ditto from Chorale members. They describe Barrows as dedicated to the group, his family and the community. In testimonials for the program for this weekend’s swan song, Carolyn Perrone, president of the Chorale’s board of directors, writes, “It has been a very rewarding time to be in the company of such a fine friend and man.”

Barrows was Thomas Jefferson High School’s first choir teacher when it opened in the Federal Way Public Schools system in the late 1960s. He also taught in the Kent School District, retiring after a combined 35 years and then taking the Chorale’s reins in 1993. Several of his former students have sung in the Chorale.

Barrows’ musical and community ties also extend to Puget Sound Musical Theatre (he was one of the founders of the group that disbanded last year) and Harmony Unlimited, a female jazz group based in Federal Way.

The 70-member Chorale will perform at 8 p.m. Friday and 1:30 Saturday at St. Vincent de Paul Church, where Barrows is the choirmaster. To help mark the farewell concerts for Barrows, the City Council has proclaimed May 20 –– this Saturday –– as Don Barrows Day.

The council lauded Barrows for helping “enhance the quality of life in Federal Way.”

Andrew Miller, a musician and composer from Federal Way, will replace Barrows as interim director for the next two years, said Phil Wamba, secretary of the Chorale board.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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