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Spring 2014
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John T. Barrett
John T. Barrett, MD, died on January 26, 2010, in the 93rd year of his productive life.

Born in Lewisville, IN, he attended Providence Classical High School and Brown University (’39). He then  transferred to Boston University School of Medicine and was awarded his MD degree in 1943. Following  residency training in pathology at Rhode Island Hospital, John entered the United States Army, serving as pathologist to a sequence of military facilities in the States, Europe, and Korea. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain.

Back in civilian life, John resumed his residency training at Boston Children’s Hospital and Providence Lying-
In Hospital. In the subsequent 40 years, John was appointed pediatrician in chief at Providence Lying-In  Hospital [now Women & Infants Hospital] and Rhode Island Hospital while serving as consulting pediatrician to many of the other hospitals in the state.

John chaired a cluster of Department of Health and Governor’s commissions addressing a spectrum of problems regarding child health. When Brown University began its medical school in 1972, John was one of the first of the state’s clinicians to be awarded a professorship. In addition, he was chosen to chair the  admissions committee.

On March 10, 1985, The March of Dimes celebrated the 30th anniversary of the campaign to vaccinate the children of Rhode Island against poliomyelitis. A banquet attended by the medical and political leadership of Rhode Island was held to honor John Barrett’s role in initiating and supervising this immense disease  prevention campaign. The guest speaker was Dr. Jonas Salk.

In addition to his role as the leading pediatrician in the hospitals of Rhode Island, as pediatrician to many of the elementary and secondary schools of the community, and as the community pediatrician that a succession of governors had called for public health advice, John maintained a very busy private practice in association with Drs. Robert Lord Jr., Wilson Utter, Henry Utter, and Judith Shaw.

John Barrett was married for 69 years to Mary Sisson. They jointly parented five wonderful and productive
children currently living in New England, New York, and California. This is an objective distillation of the life of John T. Barrett. But it utterly fails to convey the enormous humanity of this gifted and generous man. It does
not even mention the many thousands of children brought from sickness to health by this intuitively gifted physician; nor does it reflect upon the many younger pediatricians and countless medical students mentored over the decades by him. By his determined efforts a generation of Rhode Island children were protected from the paralytic residue of poliomyelitis—and this state is healthier because of him.

The Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University, and indeed the people of Rhode Island, are collectively grateful for the life of Dr. John T. Barrett and the countless gifts that he bestowed upon us.

Stanley M. Aronson, MD
Dean of Medicine Emeritus
Brown University
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