Fred Barge, who died July 2 at age 70, will be remembered nationally as a pioneer, philosopher and author who shaped the careers of many chiropractors, his family and colleagues said.
Patricia Berkley, Barge's daughter and a chiropractor in Onalaska, Wis., said her father was known for his lectures and writings worldwide.
"He was an incredible chiropractor and philosopher, but even a better father," Berkley said.
The Barge family has been a major force in the chiropractic community in La Crosse since 1925, when Henry Barge started the first Barge Chiropractic Clinic, the same year Wisconsin began licensing chiropractors. His sisters, Emily and Alma, also were chiropractors. In all, a dozen Barges became chiropractors.
All the Barge chiropractors attended Palmer Chiropractic College in Davenport, Iowa. Chancellor Guy Riekeman said Fred Barge was a phenomenal writer who often lectured at Palmer.
"Fred had the highest level of integrity and was a gentleman with a great Shakespearean voice," Riekeman said. "He represented the spirit of this place …. He held on to traditional principles with the highest level standards, but he was committed to developing new thought and new ideas."
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Palmer plans to honor Barge at a lyceum in August, Riekeman said.
Sally Rusak, a chiropractic assistant, said she admired everything about her father. "You could go to him for everything," she said. "He was very kind and loving."
Pamela Barge, a second cousin who operates Barge and Barge Chiropractic Center in La Crosse and Onalaska, said Fred Barge's philosophical writings were popular with students and chiropractors. "His philosophy was his forte, and he'll be remembered for his wonderful books," she said.
Fred Barge and his family also were known for fighting against fluoridated water in the city of
La Crosse for more than 40 years. Their leadership helped defeat three fluoride referendums, but a fourth referendum was passed in 1988, and since then, the city has had fluoridated water.
Fred Barge maintained that fluoridation is mass medication and believed fluoride is a dangerous chemical that does not prevent tooth decay. "Yesterday's science is today's myth," he said.