1921 – 2021

John Allen Furlow, 99, of Durham, NC passed away peacefully in his sleep on May 8, 2021. Born in Rochester, MN on July 23, 1921 to Allen John and Ruth Irish Furlow, he attended Rochester High School where he played baseball, and his exceptional pitching skills caught the attention of the St Louis Cardinals major league team who recruited him for tryouts.

Although his chance at playing for the major leagues didn’t pan out, he attended Carleton College for several months before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1942. He proudly served as 1st Class Radarman on the USS Yorktown CV-10 for three years.

After his honorable discharge in 1945, he returned to Carleton where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree and met and married Joan Eaton, his wife of 73 years. After graduating from college, John accepted the Director of Marketing position at C.F. Massey’s department store in Rochester, MN.

Following his passion and extraordinary talent as an artist, John applied and was accepted to the Art Institute in Chicago, IL where he perfected his natural gift for painting. After graduation, John and Joan moved to Nashville, TN where he was self-employed as a freelance artist and where they began to raise a family. John’s talent then took him to Chicago, IL where he worked for the Chicago Sun-Times as a sports cartoonist. Several years later he accepted the position of Art Director for Duke University in Durham, NC During his 20 year tenure at Duke, he took on the position of Director of Graphic Communications for Duke Hospital North. He was also hired to become the artist for Duke’s Athletic Department where his “claim to fame” took off. He designed and created the Duke Blue Devil we see today and the Iron Duke “D”. John also meticulously painted the first 189 portraits of the Duke Hall of Fame Inductees (which can still be seen in the Butter-Schwartz building next to Cameron Indoor Stadium), and designed and painted all of the Duke football and basketball program covers for each home game. After his retirement from Duke, he was commissioned to paint numerous portraits of various notables both at Duke and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

In addition to John’s phenomenal artistry skills, he was a remarkable pianist who solely played by ear, a beautiful tenor singer, an avid golfer who was also exceptional at making over 20 complete sets of golf clubs, an accomplished archer who also made his own bows and arrows……….the list goes on. He not only had so many interests & hobbies, but he truly excelled at all of them.
John was predeceased by his son, Allen McKenzie Furlow. He is survived by his loving wife, Joan Eaton Furlow, his daughters, Jan Kaiser (Tim), Cindy Jeffrey, and Brian Furlow (Melissa), two grandsons, Jack Furlow & Nick Furlow, his brother, Dr William Furlow of Rochester MN, and several nieces and nephews. John will be laid to rest in Freeport, IL alongside his son Allen, at a later date.
The family wholeheartedly thanks Brenda Holloway who diligently provided outstanding care to our father during the last several years of his life. Her respect and genuine caring for his well-being and comfort were invaluable.
Published by The Herald Sun on May 30, 2021.