Thomas F. Barton, 84, a retired social worker from Bellevue Hospital in New York City, died Sunday, November 7, 2021, at his home in the Upper West Side of Manhattan of natural causes. He was a resident of the city for almost 40 years.
BORN APRIL 5, 1937, in Carbondale, Illinois, “Tom” was the son of Thomas F. Barton, Sr., and Erselia (née Monticello) Barton. His career in social advocacy and work spanned for more than 60 years, including fighting for civil rights as a “freedom rider,” union rights, military veteran causes, the deinstitutionalization of mental illness, and opioid addiction treatment. Later in life, he actively supported the local DC-37 union and veterans against foreign wars.
Barton was a social worker at Bellevue for 20 years until he retired at 80. He was proud to have worked at the oldest hospital in the US and one of the first to incorporate social work as part of its patient care. He last worked at its Opioid Treatment Program - often the place of last resort for afflicted New Yorkers.
Barton’s hobbies and passions included Blue Grass music, 70 years of stamp collecting, watching the news, and reading. He enjoyed his trips to Cornell, Illinois, to visit the William and Barbara Barton farm.
Tom was always there for family and friends. He showed genuine interest and empathy for others and was never too busy to listen, to help someone in a time of need, or lend himself as a resource. His Thanksgiving or other family occasion visits were a special treat for all. Tom was beloved by his family, and he left a lasting impression on the younger ones.
He possessed a great reservoir of knowledge on many subjects, including history and politics, that he generously shared with others when the occasion arose. He had the astonishing ability to provide an unknown historical context to a modern subject that helped explain why things are as they are today.
Known for his powerful mental abilities, he had a remarkable ability to get to the root of a problem through penetrating questions. His analysis could produce a stunningly insightful that was both awesome to behold but sometimes intimidating to experience. Even in his later years.
Barton earned his bachelor’s degree (BA) from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where his father was professor emeritus of geography. Later, he attended Columbia University in New York City and earned a master’s degree in social work (MSW). He held a LMSW credential.
Barton was preceded in death by his parents. He was an only child and had no descendants.
No memorial service or funeral is planned. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to About Face: Veterans Against the War.
Archives of Barton’s social activism can be found at: http://findingaids.library.umass.edu/ead/mums539 and https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/c8028zj0/entire_text/