Ousted FLDS leader Louis Barlow dies

An ousted member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints -- who was once favored by many in the polygamist community to take over as prophet -- died Monday, banished from his home and reportedly brokenhearted.

Louis Barlow, who purportedly had seven or eight wives and about 60 children, had been expelled from the FLDS Church in January. Some who knew Barlow say he had a heart ailment that required medication.

They also said the stress of the past five months took its toll. Within the past month, Barlow's wives apparently had been reassigned to other men by FLDS church leader Warren Jeffs.

Barlow and three brothers -- who were among 21 men Jeffs had exiled from the community on Jan. 10 -- had been living in Bloomington, a suburb of St. George.

"In my opinion, he died of a broken heart," said Richard Holm, who knew Barlow well and was ousted himself in November 2003. "I heard he had made comments last week that he had nothing to live for. He was one of the patriarchs of the community, a very decent man."

Barlow, who was about 80, was the oldest living son of John Y. Barlow, a former FLDS prophet. After the mass excommunications, an anonymous letter circulated in the sister cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., where most support polygamy as a religious tenet, telling of a supposed revelation that Louis should be leader.

The writer of the letter, purportedly a "young man," claimed that John Y. Barlow spoke to him and said the mantle of the prophet should pass to Louis.

Before leaving the community, Barlow had been a high-ranking leader in the FLDS church. He was a schoolteacher, working mostly in the church's seminary program.

Last summer, he and his brother, Dan, then-mayor of Colorado City who also was exiled, were instrumental in erecting a monument commemorating the community's survival of a 1953 government crackdown on polygamy. Louis Barlow was a young man at the time of the raid and played a key role in looking after women and children separated from their husbands and families.

Jeffs later ordered the monument torn down and chastised the community for engaging in idol worship.

In 2002, three of Louis Barlow's sons were killed in a plane crash as they returned from a business trip to the Bank of Ephraim in Sanpete County.

Pam Black, who grew up in the polygamous community and still lives in Hildale, described Barlow as a free thinker and a well-respected teacher.

"It surprised me when they ousted him," she said.

Officials at Spilsbury Mortuary in St. George said funeral arrangements are pending.