Octo Barnett, husband of Sarah and father of three sons, died June 30, 2020, just months shy of his 90th birthday. In his own words, a “simple country doctor,” Octo was also the founder and Director of the Laboratory of Computer Science at Mass. General Hospital and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Octo grew up in backcountry Alabama, where he and his mother raised peanuts and cotton. In high school in Montgomery, he taught the school’s math class, played on the tennis team, and graduated valedictorian. He attended Vanderbilt, after hearing of a scholarship opportunity at a local barbershop, and then Harvard Medical School. Sarah and Octo met on chance encounter on a Boston street, when Octo was reciting a soliloquy from Cyrano de Bergerac to friends and Sarah joined in. For almost 60 years, they lived in Newton, MA. Octo was active in the anti-Vietnam war movement, the Unitarian Church, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Quakers, and local conservations efforts. Octo and Sarah loved the outdoors - hiking, canoeing, skiing and sailing. On many of their great adventures they went with the same close friends they met in their 20s and later often joined by their children and then grandchildren. He particularly loved their annual Maine canoe trips and Memorial Day weekends on the Vineyard.
Octo leaves Sarah, 3 sons and daughters-in-law and five grandchildren – John and Sheila of Newton and children Elizabeth (London) and Gannon (Newton), Andrew and Erica of Australia and children Lachlan, Isabelle and Nicholas (all of Australia), and Robert and Jane of Virginia.
The family is having a private ceremony and plans a celebration at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Appalachian Mountain Club (Boston), First Unitarian Society in Newton, or the Carrol School (Lincoln, MA).
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