John Ferguson Barell


JOHN FERGUSON BARELL, a longtime resident of New York City, died on November 17, 2017. He was 79 years old.

The son of Ralph James and Elizabeth Ferguson Barell, he was born in Rochester, NY on July 9, 1938. He graduated from Wellesley High School, Wellesley, MA, in 1956, and earned his bachelor's degree in history magna cum laude at Harvard College (Lowell House) in 1960.

He was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy and served five years, during which he fulfilled his childhood dream of going to Antarctica emulating explorer Admiral Richard E. Byrd, whom John had met and corresponded with in high school. John later would write and teach about his experiences to encourage students to pursue their curiosity and fulfill their dreams.

He earned a Ph.D. in education at Columbia University. He taught English in New York City public high schools, then became a professor of education and world literature (Professor Emeritus) at Montclair State University.

John married Nancy Ann Bonaventura August 2, 1969, and they made their home in Manhattan. They enjoyed traveling together, listening to classical music and jazz and spending summers at their home in Hampton Bays, NY.

A prolific author, John wrote numerous books on Antarctica and professional discovery books such as "Did You Ever Wonder?" and "Fostering Curiosity Here".

John is survived by his wife Nancy, his sister Marcia Graff of Basking Ridge, NJ; sister Robin L. Beck and husband Tim of Boothbay, ME; six nieces and nephews, an aunt and several cousins. His love, advice, friendship and interest in the educational pursuits of family members will be sorely missed.

Visitation will be held Tuesday, November 21st at Frank Campbell, 1076 Madison Avenue, (at 81st St.) 2 to 4, and 6 to 8pm.

Published in The New York Times on Nov. 20, 2017.