CHARLES M. BARRETT
For Charles Barrett, the day had twenty-four hours as it has for everyone else. But by using nearly every one of them, he managed at one and the same time to be an active member of the staff of the Cincinnati Medical Center, president of the board of the University of Cincinnati, chairman of the Cincinnati Business Committee and, surely a full time job in itself, the Chief Executive Officer of one of the nation's large insurance companies, Western - Southern. He was also intensely involved in the politics of both the Democratic and the Republican Party.
"He would start," says Dr. Eugene Saenger, for many years his close associate in UC's cancer program, "at 7 or 8 AM and keep going until midnight." His wife, May Belle, gives him another hour: "He would bounce up at 6 AM in a good humor," she says.
The dominant theme in this complex and highly productive life, however, was cancer. To quote the memorial of the Queen City Optimists Club, "From the improvements on the dismal cancer ward of General Hospital, the development of a vigorous cancer education program for the medical student and practicing physician, the growth of a multidisciplinary Tumor Service, the Papanicolaou Laboratory, the Neoplastic Disease Registry, the first cobalt 60 teletherapy units, the first linear accelerator, all were spearheaded by Dr. Barrett."
Charley was steered toward cancer when in his early training years he worked on a cancer ward. He was disturbed by the lack of concern for the patients as individuals. Their outlook was bleak, and there was a general indifference, little concern for their future. "It was important for them to know they are not abandoned," he said in a 1977 taped interview with Dr. Edward Gall and Dr. Benjamin Felson. They needed someone to say, "I'll be with you." He felt "there was a pressing need or someone who would help the patient." A patient, he said, "is a person seeking or wanting a friend." The greatest satisfaction "is to take a person by the hand into the valley of death so that he does not fear."
Barrett saw the need for a special type of program for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. His goal became the ability to teach and develop and control cancer effectively.
At that time, the early '30's, radiology was "kind of looked down on," according to Dr. Saenger; "in fact, the surgeons often did their own radiation therapy." Charles and Saenger, "got our hands on radiology. We did a kind of garden variety job; we didn't know much about it, but no one else did either."
They were attending a meeting in San Francisco. After dinner they went out and walked for about three hours. They outlined a program of how radiation therapy for cancer should be developed at the University. "What we laid out eventually became reality," Gene says. A few glitzes, but "the overall structure was very much influenced by what we agreed upon. We both always remembered that conversation."
One of Barrett's early achievements: obtaining appointment in the Department of Surgery while in the Department of Radiology, thus establishing an interdisciplinary communication.
In the late '50's, cobalt came on stream. "Charles was determined to get it here in Cincinnati," Saenger reports. "He went to his friends and acquaintances and raised enough money to buy the unit and put a building around it."
The wife of Paul Herget, a nationally prominent astronomer, developed cancer. He became a major contributor. The State provided some funds: "Charles put an arm on the Governor, probably on the golf course," Saenger says.
Barrett gave the cobalt unit to the hospital, and helped bring in "very good people" to staff the radiation therapy - which culminated in the Charles M. Barrett Center for Cancer Treatment and Research. Charles would see patients there, then turn them over to other doctors for treatment. "It's been my interest," Barrett said in the Felson interview, "to see that the Medical Center be able to give as fine cancer treatment as can be obtained anywhere in the United States. We're not there, but we're making progress."
What has all this to do with becoming chief executive of Western-Southern? While a resident in radiology at the University Hospital, Barrett did medical examinations for several insurance companies. These were mostly on Sundays, he said in the taped interview. His salary at the time was "exceedingly meagre" and this way he could pick up $10 a Sunday. The examinations were made in the applicants' homes, "on site". "It was not a bad experience," he commented.
After leaving residency, he was able to keep on "sorting paper", looking over medical applications for Western-Southern. But his interest broadened. As Polk Laffoon IV reports in a June 12, 1976 Cincinnati Post article, "From the time he began doing risk appraisals - reviewing the medical applications of prospective clients - he became more and more engrossed in the business. He read histories of life insurance companies and learned that doctors had founded many of them.
"Soon he began fiddling with the mortuary tables, trying to determine where the company should take a risk and where not. . . In 1952 he became medical director, and today is credited with forming most of the rules, regulations and underwriting practices the company follows. From the actuarial work he developed an interest in sales, the heart of the business. 'While he's never been in sales, he knows in depth what's going on,' says one colleague."
Barrett himself adds little: the road to the presidency, he says, "was a slow process," and typically adds, "It was very providential that it worked out this way; it could have worked out another way."
There are those who point out that Western-Southern was always a Williams family business, and Charles was a Williams cousin. But Saenger reports that William Safford, then Western-Southern president, took an immediate interest in young Charles. "He looked on him as a son," Saenger reports, "honed him up to a very fine point."
Safford himself, in the Laffoon article, says, "I thought he was the most capable of the available material. . . Barrett was a fellow that could fit in anyplace."
And "fit in anyplace" he did, particularly in power centers within the community. He was chairman of the Cincinnati Business Committee, president of the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, and an influential member of several boards, business and educational.
Charles Barrett was chairman of CBC longer than anyone else, as of 1989, and "was probably the best hands-on chairman that I have ever worked under," says Ronald Roberts, executive director of that organization.
As CBC chairman, he had to deal with 24 or 25 CEO's, men "accustomed to giving orders, having their way," Roberts comments. If Ron and Charles agreed on a program and started to implement it, and Ron received calls of protest or disagreement, Barrett would step in, take responsibility for the plan, explain it, and say, "Now if you have any suggestions, let me have them." He was not afraid, Roberts says, to deal with his colleagues "strength to strength."
This gave him a reputation among some as being cantankerous, bull-headed; Ron prefers to call it "tough-minded."
Once a decision had been reached, "a deal cut," as Ron puts it, Barrett gave it full support. "I never saw him pullout on anybody - leave anybody dangling at the table." If two people had a problem with each other, and disruption was threatened, Barrett would place himself between them and say, "I am the problem; now deal with it."
This quality, Roberts feels, is one answer to Barrett's success in so many areas. He found people "to whom he could ally himself and whom he could trust . . . You really didn't understand him if you didn't understand the kind of people he had who would carry water for him." The people who worked with him "knew Charles Barrett would absolutely protect their interest or that person's participation from first to last."
He used people very well in a delegating capacity, Roberts says. But when Barrett gave instructions or delegated a mission, Ron adds, "The worst mistake you could make with (him) was not telling him what was going on."
Roberts tells of being with Barrett one Saturday morning in Barrett's office ("he worked all the time - Saturday morning, Saturday evening, I even got calls on Sunday. No days were off limits to getting the job done"). Sitting there in shirt sleeves, Roberts raised a current issue, and said the CBC would have to "lead the charge." They discussed it for ten minutes, at the end of which Barrett said, "That's settled." Ron, surprised, said, "I need your directions." Barrett: "You got 'em." Ron understood he was to use whatever resources were available and get the job done.
Roberts gives an appraisal of what made Barrett "the best natural leader I've ever met."
He appreciated intelligence gathering. He didn't move if he didn't know everything there was to know about it. "He really understood the use of good intelligence. He did it on everything."
He formed a plan - simple, clearly stated. He set a clear objective, then how to get there. "We're at Point A, we want to get to Point B, here's how we do it."
When he initiated the action, he did it simply, did it direct. "No convoluted mystique - a straight line. He never spent time on the perimeter of the problem." Ron felt "there was a good bit of the doctor in the way he approached a problem: make a diagnosis, layout the procedure, cut with a minimum of damage."
Those involved, he protected. This generated confidence in the people working on the plan. "He was the responsible person, he was the guy in charge, and he took the heat."
Saenger confirms that Barrett was "very quick at making decisions. He'd see the problem immediately. He could get into a problem at the University, peel it back, and come right to the issue. We'd talk something over and settle it right then and there. When he didn't like something, he'd say, 'Let me think it over; I'll get back to you.' " That usually meant the answer was going to be negative.
Another associate recalls serving on a committee with Barrett to guide City Management on a police matter. The assumption was that a series of meetings would be held, studies initiated, reports made and a final recommendation in three months. Charles convened the committee in the City Manager's office in City Hall, discussed the subject with two or three key individuals, proposed to the committee the recommendation that should be made, had a motion passed -- and the assignment was completed. One meeting, one week's time.
Whatever his technique, it was effective. Stories abound about his getting things done - usually quietly, unobtrusively, and anonymously.
In the Post article, Jerry Wiot, chairman of radiology at General Hospital (before it became University Hospital), tells of having to re-do the therapy unit. "So I go to the Administration and there's no money. I called Charley, and he said, 'Okay, Jerry, let me see what I can do.' A few weeks later the administrator sends me a note saying the money is available and would I come up to look at the plans. But Charlie never called back."
It came time to name the new Radio Isotope Lab. Barrett, as chairman of the board of the University of Cincinnati, thought Gene Saenger was due for more recognition than he had received, and suggested giving it his name. There was considerable resistance to naming anything after someone still living; but soon thereafter the name was announced - the Saenger laboratory. Someone asked Gene how this happened. Gene said, "I have a good friend."
Ron Roberts has another 'naming' story. Convention Center had been built when Barrett called Ron one day and said, "I wonder what they're going to call that building?" Ron knew what that question meant, and replied, "Okay, why don't you just tell me?" Charles suggested naming it after Dr. Sabin, on the grounds that he had done so much for humanity with the polio vaccine, and this would be a way to identify him firmly with Cincinnati. He suggested this at a meeting of the CBC and got a strong negative reaction. There was no support whatever. Ron suggested to Barrett that it was a lost cause; Charley said simply, "I'll take care of it." Two weeks later City Council passed a resolution establishing the name - the Albert B. Sabin Convention Hall.
Ron asked Barrett how he had done it. Barrett said, "I talked to a few people." Ron's curiosity made him ask, Who? Charles smiled and said, "Your experience in Washington made you circumspect. Well, I can be, too."
"Talking" was productive with Barrett. Senator Ted Kennedy's staff broke a story that Eugene.Saenger, in the radioisotope lab, was giving patients whole body radiation in an attempt to cure tumors; the defense department, always interested in radiation, was financing it. Barrett, whose friends in political circles were many, called on the Senator. Kennedy soon issued a retraction.
Asked how he accomplished this, Barrett told Polk Laffoon: "Well really, we just sort of chatted about his situation and I, uh, really got a chance to explain our position, and it wasn't quite as bad as he thought." The fact was Barrett had been able to persuade the Senator, correctly, that his staff had sensationalized legitimate medical research into a cause celebre about using patients as 'guinea pigs'.
Dr. Eli Rubenstein of Bethesda Hospital sums it up: "In plain English, Dr. Barrett is the best people-handler in the city. He's the greatest motivator on the scene. He knows how to get things done." Howard Morgens adds, "He had a very happy facility with politicians. He knew them, they knew him - and liked him. He could get anything he wanted to. Did a good job at DC, getting money."
He used his talents in other ways. Saenger tells of Marshall Lee, a young surgeon in charge of pediatric surgery at the University Hospital. He was, Saenger recalls, "a lovely, sweet man," a fine surgeon with a future. But he rapidly developed hostility among many Cincinnati surgeons, largely because of his strict policy on who could operate in the hospital, barring 'the Christ Hospital group' and others. Lee lost his job.
He was devasted, said he was giving up medicine, was going back to Maine and run a hardware store. Saenger happened to mention this to Barrett, commenting on what a fine young man Lee was. A year or so later Gene was walking on Boylston Street in Boston and ran into Lee. Asked what on earth he was doing there, Lee replied that he was medical director of a large insurance firm - through Charles Barrett's efforts. "It's an illustration of what Charles did," Gene comments; it is significant in three ways - his compassion, his ability to do something about it, and his not mentioning it to anyone,
This lack of concern for receiving credit is a dominant theme in all talk about Charles Barrett.
His response to Dr. Felson when asked why he had received a Sports Illustrated Silver Anniversary All American Award is typical: the award, he said, was given to members of sports teams twenty-five years earlier "who were never convicted of anything, mainly for keeping out of trouble." Actually, the award was primarily in recognition of his role in the establishment of the National Football Hall of Fame - which was located at King's Island outside Cincinnati partly through his efforts.
"He was never a 'name' man, wanting to be given credit for anything," Saenger says. Gene was never able to get from him a Mea Vita for the University's records. "You did not have to honey-tongue him." He was very pleased when he got awards, and proud of them, Gene says; but "there was never any feeling, Why didn't I get this or that? or They should have given that to me."
He believed, Roberts says, that if one gives everybody else the credit one can get a lot more done. He was always complimentary, sometimes flowery. "If he praised somebody a lot, that meant he didn't like him." Ron is quick to add, "That doesn't mean he was 'phoney'; he was the most un-phoney person I've ever met." But he used social graces as a way of getting along with people. "You don't have to be disagreeable to disagree," he'd say.
introducing the taped interview, said Barrett is "something
special. . . One of the most selfless people I've ever known. . . very modest... never takes the credit."
There are those who point out that while he always seemed unconcerned about credit, he always received it. His modesty became almost a trademark, a quality he cultivated, consciously or unconsciously.
Apropos of a Morgens comment that Barrett "never turned down anything - a constantly amazing guy," Ron Roberts said, he knew he could make a difference. This was not egoism, but "confidence in himself, that he could make a contribution." Ron Roberts says, "People who know Barrett well say they've seldom encountered anyone so absolutely sure that he is right so much of the time - not in a domineering or arrogant way, just confident of his own judgment."
Yet Polk Laffoon, in his interview, quotes Barrett: " 'Me exceptional' he sputters. 'No. No way. I don't have nearly the talent that other people have, but I am willing to work hard and persist. That's the only qualification, the only one that might be different. The only one.' "
Even his harshest critics - and they are very few - would reject that evaluation of his competence.
Mainly he had friends. Hordes of them, at all levels.
"He was a friend of the little guy," Dr. Felson says, "the softest touch in town." Felson tells of going to the ball game with him. They arrived on time, but it was the second inning before they got to their seats. "Charley stopped to talk to a banker, the Mayor, the peanut vendor. . ." Saenger commented on his "tremendous gift of mixing with people - academics, business people, politicians, priests, socialites, the poorest, the richest."
John ('Socko') Wiethe, the head of the Democratic Party in Hamilton County, was a teammate of Barrett's at college, and they later worked on playgrounds together, as recreation directors. They remained close friends. When Governor DiSalle and Wiethe had a falling out, it was Barrett who brought them together again. Yet it was Republican Governor James Rhodes who appointed him to the Ohio Board of Regents. And he twice received appointment to the UC Board by Charterite mayors.
Asked whether he was a Republican or a Democrat, Charley responded that he had been called a Republicrat. Actually he paid little attention to party lines. When the University's Medical Science building was finished, a dinner, "an elegant do" as Saenger describes it, was held at the Netherland Hilton's Hall of Mirrors. The stage was full of VIP's, including the Democratic Governor, DiSalle. Barrett was MC, introduced them, and then said, "There's a particular guest here tonight that I want you all to greet," and introduced Jim Rhodes, the former Republican Governor and DiSalle's political rival, sitting somewhere back in the h~11 It was under Rhodes' administration that the initial State contribution to the new building had been made.
When the local Democratic leaders were trying to oust John Wiethe from the party leadership, Barrett gave a dinner for close to a thousand people as a tribute to Wiethe. "He was tremendously sensitive to the needs of individuals," Saenger added. "If a man helped him, he would go through fire to support him." When "the roof fell in" on Marvin Warner, Charles wrote a letter in his behalf, saying he had many fine attributes.
Ron Roberts "always thought he was a secret Democrat; he was very comfortable with them." He and Lausche were "fast friends"; he was "very close" to Celeste. Ron says Barrett, speaking of Democrats, "thought they were crazy but he loved them."
Dr. Richard Vilter, in a memorial written for The Literary Club, said, "He never spoke ill of any person if he could avoid it and always searched for and found an admirable characteristic even in those he should have disliked. It was never really obvious that he disliked anyone."
"Busy as he was," Howard Morgens says, "the guy would do almost anything for his friends." Morgens told of one doctor who had a problem with cancer, and came to Charles asking him to 'think with me on the problem.' Charles went to New York with him to consult with other doctors, immersed himself in the problem, helped him reach a decision. "It was the right one; he's still alive."
When Morgens himself had open-hean surgery and was in the hospital 25 days, "There wasn't a single day that Charley wasn't there, talking with Anne, and with the doctors. I'm sure he had consultations that I never heard of.
"And he did it for a guy who worked at the YMCA. Charley used to go there for workouts, so he knew him. When he developed a problem, Charles picked him up and went to the doctor's with him."
Ron tells of a meeting when Barrett was his boss at CBC. They always had a list of things to cover, and were going through it when Charley put his papers face down on the desk and said, "Your head's not here. What's on your mind?" Ron's father had called the night before, told him his mother had Parkinson's disease. He told Charles this, and Charles "really got into it." He said research was being started on some promising new drugs just coming out to stop the progression of the disease. "You take it easy today; let me do a little checking."
Two hours later he called and said, "There's a wonderful man in Wisconsin, head of the Medical School at the University of Wisconsin; he's launching a research program, and is expecting your call." Ron's mother was placed in the program, advantageously. It was typical, Ron comments, of his concern, his ability to establish contacts, his effectiveness - and most of all, his humanity.
Many, particularly doctors, Laffoon writes, "marvel at his compassion. They say that his affection toward former patients is almost palpable, and that he has an extraordinary ability to inspire confidence in people whose condition warrants none."
"He cared for people," Ron adds. He really understood what caring meant. As a doctor, he had "a great respect for the fragility of life. A tick on the second hand was meaningful because he realized how little of these ticks you really get. He didn't waste very many things. Time was one of those things."
Charles Marion Barrett was born on March 10, 1913, in Cincinnati, the son of May and Charles Francis Barrett, the local general agent for Railway Express. Charles' grandfather came from Ireland, and joined the army of Maximilian and Carlotta in Mexico. When that 'empire' collapsed in 1867, the senior Barrett walked from Mexico City to Cincinnati, where the family settled.
Charles never forgot his Irish origins. "The Irish could do no wrong," May Belle reports. One of their pleasures was traveling to Ireland, visiting cemeteries, "looking up cousins."
Charles attended Xavier High School, graduated from Xavier University in 1934 and from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 1938.
He was an enthusiastic athlete; "football, swimming, handball, squash - liked to do everything," as he told Dr. Felson. Charles Williams, his second cousin, recalls that he had the makings of a leader even as a youth. In pick-up athletics, he was always the captain. At Xavier University he played center on the varsity football team.
He entered medicine primarily because of his older brother, Michael, whom he revered. Michael from his earliest days planned to be a doctor, and young Charles became imbued with the same spirit. They had visions of practicing together. Things were proceeding smoothly toward that goal: Michael got his medical degree in 1935 and went into private practice; Charley got his in 1939 and went into a radiology residency in Cincinnati's General Hospital. Then in 1941 Michael died of a streptococcus infection. Charles was devastated; years later he could not speak of it without emotion.
Michael had been doing much of the medical examiner work at Western- Southern. Charles went to them and said, "How about letting me do it?" They gave him a trial run - and the long association with the Company was solidified.
That same year Charles received a Fellowship in Cancer in the Department of Surgery, and shortly thereafter was given joint faculty appointments in the Departments of Surgery and Radiology. In 1943 he joined the radiology staff at Bethesda Hospital, but continued to spend most of his time at UC.
"Since his time as a medical student and henceforth throughout his entire life. Dr. Barrett remained devoted to the total care and support of the cancer patient," his Optimists Club memorial states.
His widow, May Belle, recalls, "He had a wonderful relationship with his patients." She tells of one, the wife of a business peer, who said, "You know, Charles, it was almost worth getting cancer to get to know you." On his death May Belle was deluged with calls from mothers, fathers, wives, children, saying how great he was. Dr. Saenger tells of how Charles would go out and pick up patients and drive them to the clinic. He was "tender, attentive" with them.
"Around the Medical Center he is a legend," Polk Laffoon writes. "He developed General Hospital's first cancer detection center in 1946, at a time when many older physicians thought him an alarmist and an upstart. " 'You're going to scare people, turn them into hypocondriacs,' they told him.
"But Barrett had done enough research, and read enough autopsy reports at Western-Southern ((where he was doing risk appraisals) to convince him that people who were careless about cancer often died prematurely. As usual he persisted."
He had hay fever very badly in those earlier years, his wife says. "He was miserable when the hay fever season came, in August; he couldn't breathe." As a result they went to Northern Michigan mid-August and stayed until the first frost. Then about 20 years before his death he found nearly complete relief in immunization, would have a shot once a month regularly.
That pretty much ended long vacations. The Barretts had a condominium in Naples, Florida, and Charles would go there for a maximum of two weeks; another two weeks they spent in Europe. Once in a while he'd take two to four days off; "he loved golf and swimming," May Belle recalls.
He enjoyed being with people - but quite often he would go to the Cincinnati Country Club, hire a cart, and go out and play by himself.
He met May Belle Finn at a parry at the Queen City Club in 1937. He phoned her a week later, to her surprise, she recalls, and asked her to go to a movie with him - Janet Gaynor in 'A Star is Born'. He was then in Medical School, and didn't want to get married until he was making more than his $50 a month as resident. But she would ride with him evenings and Sundays when he went to make 'on site' medical examinations for the insurance companies.
They did marry in 1942 and had six children, Angela (Eynon), Charles Francis, John Finn, Michael Ryan, Marian Christine (Leibold) and William. There were 16 grandchildren at the time of his death.
He was somewhat of a disciplinarian with the children, May Belle says. "They knew what was what. He never raised a hand or anything, but, I don't know, he just had that manner. If they knew anything would displease him, they wouldn't do it." He always had an opinion, she said, if they asked for it. "Those are the things they remember."
He always was home for dinner, she adds, and "that was the time we were all together. . . He was here for all of us." After dinner he would go out again, to Mercy Hospital to read X-ray films.
"The kids idolized him," Ron Roberts says. He set them an example of leadership, involved them in discussions. He would bring people home, and include the children in the conversation. Charley would refer to this as "family investment time." He was a guy "who had his time references in place," Ron adds.
"He was daring but he was cautions," May Belle says. "He taught the kids, Push yourselves but don't go beyond reality."
He had very definite ideas, May Belle says. Could he be pushed out of them? She answers with one word, "No." Then she adds, "He may have mellowed a bit as the years went by."
Saenger says, "I never regarded him as confrontational. It might be 'This is the way it's going to be' on some occasions, but they were rare. He was firm, but I always thought he was very fair."
He was, as Polk Laffoon describes him, "a big bear of a man, with a Mr. Clean head and a W.C. Fields belly. He is as unpretentious as apples. His clothes are unstylish, his shoes unshined, and his socks nestle about his ankles."
May Belle throws up her hands at his clothes. "He was terrible. He didn't care. He'd think he looked nice, and I'd say, 'Oh Charley, come on!' " She tells of his buying a fancy evening jacket on his own in Florida; it was "so out of key."
He had the athlete's coordination, and moved with a heavy grace. His voice was soft, seldom raised. When nice things were said about him in his presence, he would hang his head and put on a sort of "Dh, pshaw" expression.
He had a quiet sense of humor. "Nice," May Belle says, "never mean." He did not like dirty jokes, "or even practical jokes." Gene Saenger refers to "the twinkle in his eye" but adds, "He was not great for jokes about himself."
"He was fun to be with," Howard Morgens says, "an awful lot of fun." Also "a very warm person"; Howard mentions "the empathy of the guy." Ron Roberts' comment: he was "a delightful person to be around."
According to his wife, May Belle, he enjoyed social events, liked people. He was very good at remembering names, she says. When he was teaching at UC he would get a picture of each student and put it next to that student's name on the roster; "by the third class he'd know all their names."
Did anything ever make him angry? Yes, according to May Belle, anything that seemed unjust, "people trying to take advantage of people. He'd get mad if he saw someone else hurting somebody." Saenger adds, "He'd get sore as hell if a fellow said he'd take over something and then didn't follow through."
He could lose without rancor, Ron Roberts says. Barrett shared the CBC's strong support for a downtown convention center, but when the City said it would put up $28 million and the remaining $30 million would have to come from the private sector, he was furious. Thought it was "outrageous". He and Ed Harness in particular "battled it out", with Ed maintaining that "if we don't do it, the other funding will fall apart." The vote was taken, and Charles lost. But Western-Southern paid its share without protest - and when the Convention Center was opened, it was Charles Barrett who cut the ribbon.
Charles was a lay leader of the Catholic Church but, May Belle says, he never had a lot to do with the trappings of Catholicism. They "didn't have a lot of priests in the home." He was active in helping Jewish affairs, such as their hospital drive. He also received an award from the Episcopalian Christ Hospital, which, Gene Saenger comments, "impressed him." Gene adds, "He was completely without prejudice."
He was, however, devoted to the nuns at Our Lady of Mercy Hospital, and was close to the clergy at Xavier and St. Xavier; "they were friends," May Belle says. Dr. Saenger adds, "He was the only physician who had a parking place with his name on it" at Mercy Hospital. And conspicuous at his funeral were eight or nine high representatives of the Catholic hierarchy, in full panoply.
"A great love of his life was the University of Cincinnati," the Optimists Club memorial reports. He served on the UC board 1967-70. In a conversation with Governor Rhodes, Charley expressed concern that the Ohio Board of Regents had put much of its money into higher education but not medicine or law. Charley told the Governor of the desperate plight of medical schools, which needed money "very, very badly", and some of which were facing closing. He felt none of the Regents understood the problems of medical education.
Shortly thereafter Gov. Rhodes appointed him to the Regents board. Barrett was able, during his three years, 1970-1973, to get a vice-chancellor of medicine into the system before leaving the Board of Regents to return to the UC Board in 1974, serving as its chairman from 1977 to 1986. As Chairman, and prior to that in the more specialized area of medicine, "behind all the great development of the University was Barrett," Saenger observes.
he received were legion. In addition to the Sports Illustrated award
already mentioned, they included the Citizenship Award of the Conference of Christians and Jews, the Distinguished American Award of the Cincinnati chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame, the Taft Medal, University of Cincinnati's Award for Notable Achievement in Graduate's Chosen Field, the National Jewish Hospital Award, the Special Award of the Ohio State Radiological Society, the William Booth Award, the Good Neighbor Award, and the 1985 Daniel Drake Award, the most prestigious award given by the College of Medicine. In 1987 he was named Great Living Cincinnatian. He received honorary degrees from Xavier University, Miami University, and University of Cincinnati.
He was a director of the Southern Ohio Bank, Eagle Savings Association, Cincinnati Bell, Inc., Eagle-Picher Industries, Inc., Procter & Gamble, Bethesda Hospital (past president), Mercy Hospital, and a number of professional organizations and associations.
He was a past president of the Commercial and Commonwealth Clubs, and in 1985-86 was Board Chairman of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce.
With all his interests in the wide array of fields, "His first love was always medicine," May Belle says. "But he enjoyed the Company."
As cancer overtook him, though he was desperately sick, he still would go to the office, Roberts reports. His wife confirms that he would not take a pain- killer, even when the pain was excruciating: he did not want to dull his mind. Although he could hardly walk, Ron says, he was there at the office until the last week before he died. "1 have never seen a person struggle so hard, and live longer by sheer will. He just would not give up. The man was iron."
When the national Governor's Council was scheduled to be held in Cincinnati in mid -1989, Gov. Celeste appointed Carl Lindner and Charles Barrett as co-chairmen. Barrett demurred, said he couldn't make the calls required to raise the $2 million needed for conference expenses, but accepted when reassured that the group would counsel with him and check as they went along, but others would do the work.
When the first session was held in the P & G building, Charles was there. He walked with great difficulty, and he was in pain. But he made one of the opening talks.
That was his last public appearance before he died ... on May 13, 1989, at his home.
(With permission of the author.)