ONE of Sunderland’s most colourful characters has died.
Former Sunderland Echo arts reviewer and High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear, Marj Barton, died in hospital last Monday.
The mum-of-three and grandmother-of-three, of Ryhope, had spinal surgery due to arthritic problems, but died, aged 77, after suffering an unrelated stroke.
Her opera singer daughter Alison Barton, 52, said: “She is going to be a huge miss, not just to her family, but to everyone in Sunderland and the North East who knew her.
“Everyone we have told from the beautician she used to go to, to the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, has spontaneously burst into tears when we have told them the news.”
Marj, who was married to well-known doctor, Joe Barton, who died in August 2011, aged 75, of Alzheimer’s disease, started her career as a primary school teacher.
She was a visual artist, and in the 1970s created the North East branch of children’s charity Youth Music, before taking on the role of High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear in 2006.
Marj lived in Ashbrooke before moving back to Ryhope. She established the charity Music in the Minster, based at Sunderland Minster.
Alison added: “She was the most generous person with her time and money – an enormous character.”
Her funeral is on Monday at 2pm in St Matthew’s Church, Silksworth. A committal will follow at Sunderland Crematorium at 3pm.