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In Memory of Our Departed SPP Members


Mason Barr, Jr., MD (1935 - 2019)

Mason Barr, Jr., age 84, died from natural causes on October 7, 2019, at his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Mason was born June 15, 1935, in Washington, DC, the son of the late Mason Barr, Sr. and Mary Walton Barr. Mason grew up in Falls Church, Virginia and attended Haverford College (B.A. 1957) and George Washington University Medical School (M.D. 1961). Mason married Helen Sagmaster in 1957, and she was the love of his life and best friend. Mason was a Professor in the departments of Pediatrics, Pathology, and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan Medical School, until his retirement in 2004 when he was named Professor Emeritus. From 1964 – 1966, he served in the US Navy as a pediatrician and medical officer. He was President of the Teratology Society (1992-93) and chair of the International Federation of Teratology Societies (2001-03). He was widely published, especially well-known as an educator in the field of fetal pathology, and a dedicated teacher, researcher and scholar. He took to heart his role as a physician and advisor to his pediatric patients and their families, helping them to understand and realize their potential to live full and meaningful lives in the face of serious disabilities. He was a hero to many and an advocate for all. During his retirement, he turned his artistic talents to the creation of wooden bowls which now grace the homes of many friends, and he prided himself on being a "genius" level NYT puzzle solver. He had an irreverent and decidedly politically incorrect sense of humor which was enjoyed by friends and family alike. He was a great listener and loving advisor to colleagues and family members, in matters relating to career paths, medical issues, and personal life choices. He was a firm believer and strong advocate for choosing work that one loves, and served as a role model to us all in that regard. He was a devoted son, husband, father, brother, uncle, grandfather, and great-grandfather, and took great pleasure in and was very proud of his family members. Mason was preceded in death by his wife, Helen Sagmaster Barr; by his sister and brother-in-law, Frances and Dewey Noland; and by his sister, Mary Wagner. He is survived by his brother-in-law John Wagner of Parsonsfield, Maine; his sister-in-law, Mary Swartz of New York, New York; his daughter and son-in-law, Catherine and Howard Shafer of Hartford, Connecticut; his son and daughter-in-law, Christopher and Carole Barr of Manchester, Michigan; and his daughter, Jennifer Barr of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is also survived by four grandchildren: Ian Hyatt (and wife Ashley Hyatt), Justin Barr (and wife Jennifer Barr), Hannah Shafer, and Devon Shafer; great-grandchildren Olivia Hyatt and Owen Hyatt, Theodore Mason Barr and Samuel Barr; along with many beloved nieces and nephews and their families. Mason's family thanks the staff at Arbor Hospice and Homewatch CareGivers for enabling Mason to end his days at home and in peace in accordance with his wishes. A celebration of Mason's life will be held in the Spring of 2020. In lieu of flowers, Mason requested that contributions be made to the Friends of Dicken Woods in honor of Helen and Mason Barr, and mailed to Deb Norbotten, Friends of Dicken Woods, 2304 Kent Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48103.

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