Barnard DeJean Joy, 76, a member and chairman of the Arlington School Board during the years when the county desegregated its schools, died of cancer Jan. 28 at George Washington University Hospital. He lived in Arlington.

Dr. Joy, a retired Agriculture Department official, served on the School Board from 1947, the first year the county was allowed to elect School Board members, until 1963. He was chairman in 1948, 1949, 1953 and 1960.

In Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered that public school systems be desegregated "with all deliberate speed." Dr. Joy and his four colleagues developed a plan to gradually carry out this mandate in Arlington.

At a routine meeting in January 1956, they voted to begin desegregating the schools the following fall. Arlington thus became the first jurisdiction in Virginia to have decided upon integrated public education. But it would take three years of court battles and controversy before its plan would go into effect.

"All hell broke loose," Dr. Joy told The Washington Post last year in describing reaction to what the board did on that winter night in 1956. "It shook the state . . . . The response was completely unexpected here."

Furious legislators in Richmond quickly revoked Arlington's right to elect School Board members and ordered the Arlington County Board to appoint School Board members who would stop the desegregation plan. Arlington is the only county in Virginia ever to have had the right to elect its School Board members.

In September 1958, federal judges ordered the desegregation of schools in Norfolk, Charlottesville and Front Royal, Va. As a way of circumventing the court orders, Gov. J. Lindsay Almond Jr. ordered the schools in those jurisdictions closed. He acted under the "massive resistance" laws that the General Assembly had passed to assert Virginia's right to run its school systems without federal interference.

In January 1959, the Virginia Supreme Court and a federal appeals panel declared "massive resistance" to be unconstitutional. State legislators and Gov. Almond accepted these rulings. Arlington proceeded with its desegregation plans.

"Dr. Joy believed the most important thing we could do in Arlington was to keep the schools open," recalled Elizabeth Campbell, who served with him for most of his 16 years on the board. "He showed great wisdom and provided stability for the board during those years."

Dr. Joy was born in Ashland, Ore. He graduated from Oregon State University and earned a master's degree in agriculture from the University of Maryland. He received his doctorate in adult education from George Washington University.

He joined Agriculture in 1930 in New York and transferred to Washington in 1935. He became an assistant to the director of research before retiring in 1968. For the next five years, he taught at George Mason University.

He was a founding board member of WETA-TV in Washington and the founding board chairman of Northern Virginia Community College. He was a past president of the Virginia School Board Association and a member of the American Association of School Administrators.

His honors include Distinguished Service Awards from the Department of Agriculture and Northern Virginia Community College.

Survivors include his wife, Ruth Boeve Joy of Arlington; two daughters, Jeanne Joy Comeau of West Germany, and Elizabeth Joy Nottingham of Atlanta; two sons, Barnard Jr., of Warrenton, Va., and A. Gordon Joy, of Fort Worth, Tex.; two sisters, Beth Prideaux of Lyons, Ore., and Dr. Adena J. Wherry of Lincoln City, Ore.; a brother, Richard C., of Ashland; 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.