A POPULAR former Sunderland GP and has died after a long illness.
Joe Barton, who was also a founder member of Bishopwearmouth Choral Society, died on Wednesday, aged 75.
His wife Marj, a regular arts reviewer for the Echo and former High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear, paid tribute to her husband of 51 years, a doting father and grandfather-of-three.
They met at school and were committed to each other as teenagers.
For 40 years Mr Barton, a Silksworth miner’s son, worked as a GP in Hendon, Springwell and The Craiglands.
A cricketing enthusiast, musician, singer and chess player, Mr Barton, of The Green, Ryhope, was educated at Silksworth Primary School and Ryhope Grammar School.
Here he excelled academically and in sport, representing the school in cricket, football, athletics and fencing.
He went on to Newcastle Medical School where he played in the university cricket team and Northumberland League against all-time greats including Sid Williams and Alan Rae, the West Indian wicket keeper.
While a houseman at Sedgefield Hospital, Mr Barton showed a talent for acute accident surgery which he continued at Monkwearmouth Hospital after going into general practice.
In his busy schedule he found time to run a health clinic for Sunderland hospital staff.
Even after undergoing a heart-by-pass in his early 60s, he returned to his post after a mere two months, before retiring.
After developing inherited vascular problems, Mr Barton for the last two years was cared for in Falklands Court, Roker, with outstanding care and affection until he died, surrounded by his wife and daughters Alison, a noted opera singer, Ros and Vicki.
“He was one of the kindest, cleverest and funniest people anyone could hope to meet,” said Vicki.
Mr Barton was also grandad to Julia, Megan and Alistair and father-in-law of Marco and Stuart.
A funeral and celebration of his life will be held on Tuesday, August 16, at 10.15am at St Matthew’s Church, Silksworth, where he and Marj wed and where they had been lifelong worshippers.
Family flowers only, donations in lieu if desired, Gift Aid cheques to Bishopwearmouth Choral Society.
Cremation follows at Sunderland Crematorium at noon.