Robert D. Barton ’41

Robert D. Barton ’41 died April 5, 2012, at his home in Washington, D.C. He was born in London on August 29, 1920, and prepared for college at Emerson School and Foxboro (Mass.) High School. He was a member of Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve shortly after Pearl Harbor and attained the rank of captain. He fought on Iwo Jima and saw the flag go up on Mt. Suribachi. While on Iwo Jima, he and his wife, Nancy Hemenway Whitten, whom he’d married the day he was commissioned a second lieutenant, wrote each other about their desire to prevent future wars, and he committed himself to a career in the U.S. Foreign Service. He served in Montevideo, Uruguay; Rosario, Argentina; and Madrid. While in Spain, he resigned his position and became Director of Inter-American Affairs for the Institute of International Education based in New York City. He crisscrossed Latin America for four years, helping expand the number and quality of foreign students invited to study in the United States. He also was involved in founding the Council on Higher Education in the American Republics. This involved counseling the rectors or chancellors of several Latin-American universities on methods used by American institutions to improve their governance. He was invited by Columbia University to be its Director for East Campus Development, and served as the deputy director of the International Fellows Program. He returned to government in 1964 as director of human resource development for the Agency for International Development in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where he worked for six months until civil war broke out, and he was evacuated and reassigned to the Caribbean. He was serving as cultural attaché in La Paz, Bolivia, when he authored the book, A Short History of Bolivia. He was having dinner with the Bolivian president the day Che Guevara was captured and killed. His next post was Guadalajara, Mexico, where he completed a master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma in 1971. Four years later, he returned to Washington, D.C., where he helped organize the Speaker’s Bureau, sending eminent Americans abroad to lecture on their specialties. In 1973, Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott asked him to join the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as its Republican adviser, where he served for the next six years. When Barton resigned from the Senate, he took the job of president of the Textile Arts Foundation, which he and his wife had founded. He served as president of the Foundation for the Preservation of Historic Georgetown and vice president of the Georgetown Citizen’s Association. He was a member of the Diplomatic and Counselor Offices Retired club, and a volunteer at the Boothbay Memorial Library. He is survived by three sons, Robert B., William E., and Frederick D. Barton; brother Bernard D. Barton ’50; seven grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and a step-great-grandchild. He was predeceased in 2008 by his wife of 65 years, Nancy Hemenway Whitten.

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