Dr. Roger J. Barron, a leading asthma and allergy specialist in Sonoma County for more than three decades, died Friday of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 68.
Barron, who in 1977 established the Allergy and Asthma Adult and Pediatric Medical Group of the Redwoods, which grew into three offices in Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Petaluma, was remembered Monday for his advocacy on behalf of patients and commitment to long-term solutions for chronic health ailments.
"He connected with people," said Connie Carey, office manager in Barron's practice for 22 years. "He wanted patients to understand about their chronic illnesses so they could reach a better level of control over their life."
Barron would give presentations to area school children on the dangers of smoking — using a pig's lung as a prop.
He was remembered by friends and colleagues as a generous and enthusiastic man who was known to spend time with patients in an era when medical care was moving toward ever-higher patient loads that sometimes sacrificed face-time with physicians.
"He really loved practicing medicine," said John Gilman of Berkeley, a friend of Barron's since the 1970s when both men began practicing medicine in Santa Rosa.
But he was equally committed to philanthropic groups close to his heart: World Runners, Global Partners for Development, Beyond War, Save the Children and others. In the mid-1980s, he raised money and ran the Moscow International Peace Marathon.
An avid traveler who criss-crossed the globe, often in the company of his wife and two daughters, Barron found ways to combine his love of medicine and his deep commitment to philanthropy.
One such trip was to Tanzania in 2010 in support of Global Partners for Development, a local non-profit organization that supports the establishment of medical clinics, schools, vaccination programs and water supplies in eastern Africa. Barron was the first one out and the last one back in days spent touring sites where the group was working, said Peter Verbiscar-Brown, executive director.
"He was hard to contain," he said. "We would show up in a village and he would go off chatting up people. He was always the last one to leave. It was always, 'Where's Roger? We have to leave.' He'd be off talking to somebody."
On that trip, Barron opted out of a safari excursion and asked instead to accompany an on-site doctor on his village rounds. "He was doing what Roger does best, which is interacting with people," Verbiscar-Brown said. "He came back and he was just aglow, so lit up from that experience."
"He is just one of the dearest, sweetest, most outgoing people," he said.
Roger James Barron was born Dec. 27, 1944, in Brookline, Mass., to <NO1><NO>Vera and <NO1><NO>Lester Barron and reared in Los Angeles. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1967 where he met his future wife, Peggy <NO1><NO>Bauman. The couple were married Sept. 2, 1967.
Barron graduated from Northwestern Medical School and completed a pediatric residency before focusing on allergy and immunology.
In addition to his work with charitable organizations, Barron was president of the California Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, a founder of the Redwood Empire Chapter of the Allergy & Asthma Foundation of America, president of the Foundation for Medical Care of Sonoma County (now Pacific Foundation for Medical Care), a board member of the Sonoma County Foundation of America and a board member of Health Plan of the Redwoods, among others.