Earl Graeff Barton Jr. died January 6, 2022, days short of his 85th birthday. Dr. Barton was born to Earl G. Barton, Sr. and Elizabeth Cowan Barton in Birmingham, Alabama on January 23, 1937. He grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and attended Decatur High School. He was very active in the Boy Scouts and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.
He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in history. He was first in his class at Emory University School of Medicine in 1962. After an internship in Internal Medicine at Grady Hospital, he continued his training with a residency at Grady in Pathology, rising to the position of Chief Resident in 1967. Dr. Barton spent two years as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force at Homestead Air Force base where he was the first pathologist to serve that base.
Following discharge from the Air Force, Dr. Barton worked in private practice and taught pathology at Emory University School of Medicine. In 1980 he began 20 years of service at the Atlanta, Georgia, VA Medical Center, retiring in 2000 as Chief, Pathology and Laboratory Medical Service and as Chief, Acute Hospital/Clinical Service Line.
Earl married Ansley Boyd in 1961. The couple met when he was 19 and she was 15. In 2002 Earl and Ansley moved to Rome, Georgia, where they lived in Shorter Heights. They moved to a small farm in Armuchee in 2005. Most recently they made their home in East Rome. In Armuchee they had six horses over a fifteen-year period. Totally unfamiliar and wary of horses, Earl became devoted to them, tirelessly caring for them, although never a rider. Also in residence over that time were four dogs and a cat, each of devoted to Earl, following him around the farm. He was an avid birder, becoming expert not only in identification by sight but by song.
Earl, known as “Doc” to his four granddaughters, had a wicked sense of humor and an irreverence that overlay a very spiritual connection to nature. Although he could seem “fierce,” he inspired instinctive trust in animals and young children. He was known to help a little cousin with her science project by weighing her rats at the hospital. He enthusiastically greeted neighborhood boys who came to the door asking, “Hey, Dr. Barton – do you want to play some Atari?” He tirelessly pulled water skiers at the Barton cabin on Lake Burton.
And he could be seen carefully looking for something in the eye of a perfectly trusting two-year-old, He was a magnet on the dance floor. He could not precede a woman through a door. Earl’s voice made an important contribution to family sing-alongs, especially at Christmas. In “We Three Kings” he invariably chose as his solo verse: “Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume breathes of life of gathering gloom; sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in the stone-cold tomb.”
Earl is survived by his devoted wife, Ansley Boyd Barton, his son, Thomas McCarty Barton, his daughter, Sara Barton O’Dea, his four grand-daughters, Haley Barton Meyer, Katherine India Barton, Erin Ansley O’Dea, and Roberta Quinn O’Dea, his daughter-in-law, Marshall Burke Barton, his son-in-law, Patrick O’Dea, three step grandchildren, J. Charles Dukes, IV, Christopher M. Dukes, and Catherine D. Baxter, and seven step great- grandchildren.
He was greatly loved and will be forever missed.