Gene Bartow

August 18, 1930January 3, 2012

Gene Bartow, age 81, passed away on Tuesday, January 3, at his home in Birmingham, Alabama. He was born on Aug. 18, 1930 in Browning, Mo., the youngest of four children born to Almeda and Tommy Bartow.

Gene is survived by his wife of 59 years, Ruth Huffine Bartow of Galt, Mo., one daughter, Beth B. Long (Chip) of Charlotte, NC, and two sons, Mark Howard Bartow of Palm Desert, Calif., Murry Linn Bartow (Tammy) of Johnson, City, Tenn. He also leaves eight grandchildren, Stryder Howard Bartow, Murry Alexander Bartow, Stephen Carter Bartow, Connor Thomas Bartow, Carter Hanson Long, Davis Bartow Long, Elizabeth Louise Long and Margaret Ann Long.

One brother, Russell Bartow (Marjorie) of Springfield, Mo., survives. Other surviving family members include Irene Bartow, Deloros Huffine, Mary Lee (Huffine) and Jim Bryant and many nieces and nephews, as well as many colleagues, players, coaches and friends who admired and loved him, and will miss him dearly.

Bartow graduated from Browning (Mo.) High School in 1948 and from Northeast Missouri State College (now Truman State University) in Kirksville, Mo., in 1952, and holds a Masters degree from Washington University In St. Louis.

After serving two years in the U.S. Army at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Tex., Bartow coached five years in High School at Shelbina and St. Charles, Mo., going to three state tournaments and winning the Missouri state championship at St. Charles in 1959. The gymnasium at St. Charles is named for Bartow and Ernie Hedges.

Following two years as an assistant coach at the University of California-Santa Barbara, he began his 34 year college head coaching career in 1961 at Central Missouri State (now the University of Central Missouri) at Warrensburg. He coached at Valparaiso (Ind.) University, Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis), the University of Illinois, UCLA, and UAB in Birmingham, where he started the program from scratch in 1977. His 1973 Memphis State team made it to the national championship game. Bartow’s teams went to three College Division and 12 Division I NCAA tournaments, with two Final Fours, one Elite Eight and two Sweet 16s. Bartow’s teams went to the NIT seven times, advancing to the Final Four twice.

He started the athletic program at UAB in 1977 as head coach and athletic director. His 647 college wins include 340 at UAB. Bartow retired from coaching in 1996, retaining his athletic director’s post until 2000. After his retirement the arena at UAB was renamed Bartow Arena. Bartow coached Puerto Rican and United States national teams, including the Puerto Rican team in the 1972 Olympics at Munich, Germany. He took the first United States basketball team to The People’s Republic of China in 1973, and has conducted coaching clinics in many countries, including China, Japan, Italy, Spain, Germany and England.

But retirement from active college coaching, and from UAB as athletic director, didn’t mean retirement for Bartow, but just a change of direction. In 2000 he became the General Manager of the Memphis Hound Dogs, a minor league professional team, and the next year joined the National Basketball Association (NBA) Memphis Grizzlies, initially working in sales, scouting and public relations. In 2007 Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley asked him to serve as President of Hoops LP, the parent company of the Grizzlies and the operating company of the FedEx Forum, the Grizzlies home arena. Bartow served as President of the Hoops LP until his death.

Highly respected as a coach and administrator, and as a role model to those whose lives he touched, Bartow has received many honors. In 1973 he was selected as the National College Basketball Coach of the Year, was Coach of the Year twice in the Missouri Valley Conference and three times in the Sun Belt Conference. Bartow has been named to 10 halls of fame, including the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame (2009). He is also a member of state sports Halls of Fame in Alabama (1989), Missouri (1989) and Tennessee this year, as well as Halls of Fame at Truman State University (1999), Valparaiso University (1999), the University of Central Missouri (2000), UAB (2009) and the University of Memphis as recipient of the Murray Armstrong award (2010), as well as the Memphis Amateur Sports Hall of Fame (2010).

Bartow was honoured at UAB with the President’s Medal (1986) and UAB Alumni Honorary Life Membership (1997), by Montevallo University with the President’s Award for Exemplary Citizenship (1986), and with the NACDA/NIT Athletic Directors Award (2005) and the Liberty Bowl Zinn Award (2010). He served the communities in which he lived in advisory positions and on the boards of several charitable organizations, foundations and civic groups, including at the time his death, the Alabama Automobile Association and the UAB Educational Foundation.

The family would like to thank the doctors, nurses and other caregivers for their care and support through this difficult journey.

Visitation will be Sunday, January 8 at Bartow Arena on the UAB campus, 617 13th Street, South, Birmingham, Alabama, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The funeral service will be at Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church, 2061 Kentucky Ave., on Monday, January 9, at 11 a.m., with interment following at Southern Heritage Cemetery, 475 Cahaba Valley Road (Highway 119) in Pelham, AL.

In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial be made to the Gene Bartow Research Fund at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, 1824 6th Avenue, S, Birmingham, Al 35294; the UAB Athletic Scholarship Fund, UAB Athletic Department, 617 13th Street, S, Birmingham, AL 35294, or Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church. eritage Funeral Home, Pelham, AL.


  • Celebration of Life Services Monday, January 9, 2012
  • Visitation Sunday, January 8, 2012

Gene Bartow

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Barbara Hill

November 9, 2012

To Coach Bartow's Family,
Please accept my condolences for the loss of your husband, father, and grandfather. I was a member of the 1973 Women's Basketball Team that toured China with Coach Bartow's Mens Team, and I just read about his passing. I will always remember him as member of our entourage and how friendly and personable he was.

Myrna McMurtry

January 17, 2012

May God bless this remaining family. I remember Ruth and her sons from the time she was teaching at TJ in Valparaiso. She and Gene participated in our staff parties and Murry was in my second grade class. What a great family. We followed news of the family and even sent a gift of familiar flowers.

Bob Magruder

January 14, 2012

I was just a blip on Gene's radar when he was assistant coach to Art Gallon at UC Santa Barbara in '59 and '6o. He and his family lived in a tract home in El Encanto Heights in what is now Goleta. I was what is now called Sports Information Director at UCSB. I will always remember Gene as a real gentleman and a "people person." I want his family to know that Jerry Harwin who founded the Hoop Club at UCSB is still going strong at age 101 and attends all Gaucho women's and men's basketball games.

Larry and Connie Snyder

January 13, 2012

Dearest Ruth,
I still have your Tylenol in my pocket book you gave me the day Gene had the "Gamma Knife" done so early in the morning. I don' t know if you remember me (Connie) and my husband Larry, but our deepest sympathy goes out to you and your family. I realllly hope we can stay in touch, because I really liked both of you very much for the moment we met.
Our deepest Sympathy
Larry and Connie

william floyd

January 12, 2012

I was sorry to hear of Coach Bartow's passing. The last time I saw and spoke with him was at the Full Moon Restaurant for lunch last year when he came in with his wife. As a 1980 Graduate of UAB, I remember fondly his coaching of the team in their win over Virginia and Ralph Sampson at the BJCC. It was special for me because I had just moved back to Birmingham after living and working in Charlottesville after graduation from UAB. Tha was a fulfilling win. I also remember Coach Bartow from Wallace Gym when he would allow his players to play against a bunch of us in pickup games. Unlike most Coaches, he revelled in seeing his players challenged. I will miss Coach Bartow because he gave basketball life in Birmingham by starting a team at UAB. The numerous professional players who came to UAB during the summers to play in the Summer League at Bell Gym and at Samford. It was all due to his influence. The same goes for football and baseball and other sports at UAB under his guidance. I (we )will miss him dearly.

William Floyd (UAB Class of 1980) - Birmingham, Al.

Derek Weaver

January 9, 2012

God Bless You Coach. Thank you for all you have done for UaB. Thank you Bartow family for loaning him to us for all these years. He was a great coach of basketball, and a better coach of life.

We will always love you coach.

Pat Green

January 9, 2012

As a Blazer fan living in Birmingham, Alabama, I would put Coach Bartow over all other legendary coaches. I would put him as one of the Greatest Coaches in all of basketball, of all time. RIP Father of UAB Sports. You are already missed. Thank you coach.

January 9, 2012

I feel deeply honored to have met Coach Bartow at an ETSU game last year. I sat behind him and beside his grandson. His grandson proudly introduced me to this wonderful man. I will always remember his kindness to me. ETSU will miss his support of our program. May God Bless His Family as they grieve his passing.

Gerald Owens (Kingsport, Tennessee)

January 9, 2012

In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.

January 9, 2012

Celebrating a life well lived. We will cherish the memories forever.