Ohio Stalwart Norm Barron Dead at 74

Norm Barron, a longtime member of the Ohio State Racing Commission, has died at 74.

Norm Barron, a prominent horseman and regulator in Ohio, died June 5 at 74 after an illness.

Barron, an attorney, owned and bred horses for more than 30 years, and was active in Ohio racing as a member of the Ohio State Racing Commission. Through that position, he dealt with national issues with the Association of Racing Commissioners International.

Barron was a graduate of Walnut Hills High School, the University of Cincinnati-College of Business Administration, and the University of Cincinnati-College of Law. Barron was the senior managing partner in the law firm of Barron, Peck, Bennie & Schlemmer in Cincinnati, and was a former partner with Brooks, Kelly & Barron.

He had extensive experience in administrative law, and from 1964-70 he was special counsel to Ohio Attorney General William Saxbe.

Barron served on the OSRC from 1983-95, and for six of those years served as chairman. He returned in 1999 and served through 2007, two years as chairman. Barron attended more than 300 OSRC meetings, never missing one during his tenure.

Barron is credited with conceiving the “7&7” wagering format in Ohio in the early 1990s to offer more wagering opportunities in a state that at the time wasn’t permitted to offer full-card simulcasts. The concept—seven races at one Ohio track and seven at another Ohio track—remains in place today.

Barron also is credited with devising the Best of Ohio, a late-season series of championship races for Ohio-bred runners. In recent years, the Queen City Oaks for state-bred 3-year-old fillies at River Downs has been called the Norm Barron Queen City Oaks in his honor.

After his departure from the OSRC, Barron said he was looking forward to returning to racehorse ownership, something he wasn't permitted to do while on the racing commission. He was managing partner of Best of Ohio Stables LLC.

Barron was a member of the board of directors and a past chairman of RCI. In addition, he served as a trustee of RCI Integrity Services. In 2003, he received the Joan Pew Award, which recognizes the outstanding racing regulator of the year.

Barron is scheduled to be honored by the University of Cincinnati Law Alumni Association in downtown Cincinnati June 11.

Barron died at his home surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife Judy; sons Michael and Hal; and daughter Esther. Services will be held at Weil Funeral Home, 8350 Cornell Road in Cincinnati, June 7.