May 6, 2020

Dr. Barry Webber, Surgeon Who Stuck With His Patients, Dies at 67


This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

Life flowed through Dr. Barry Webber’s hands.

A general surgeon at New York hospitals for 24 years, he salvaged lives with them. An avid rock climber, he applied them to the rocky crevices of the Shawangunk Mountains north of New York City. A lover of nature, he used his hands to plant trees. A tinkerer, he worked on objects — whether a computer or a car.

“There was a certain physicality to life that he really appreciated,” his wife, Harriet Clark Webber, said.

Dr. Webber died on April 18 at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. He was 67. The cause was complications of the new coronavirus, Ms. Clark Webber said.

Dr. Webber worked at Mount Sinai Queens as a surgeon, shuttling among patients, in the emergency room and the operating theater during the initial onslaught of Covid-19 admissions, she said. He had expressed fears of catching the virus from his duties.

“If it’s going to get anybody, it’s going to be me,” he said, according to Ms. Clark Webber. She said she was convinced that her husband caught the virus at the hospital, where doctors were required to wear protective face masks starting March 17, 10 days before Dr. Webber fell ill.

Barry Webber was born on March 12, 1953, in Los Angeles. His father, Kenneth Webber, who was Canadian, worked as a medical equipment salesman; his English-born mother, Sybil Webber, was a film processor. Barry spent his childhood in Los Angeles.

Described by his brother Michael as a free spirit, Dr. Webber spent his adolescent years bouncing around. Following an array of high schools — a military academy, an experimental alternative school, a year at Loyola High School in Los Angeles — he spent time in a Buddhist monastery and hiked in the Pacific Northwest before enrolling in Occidental College. He graduated with a degree in music in 1978.

After realizing his dream of becoming a classical pianist was not to be, he set his sights on medicine and enrolled at Georgetown University’s medical school, graduating in 1982.

After graduation Dr. Webber enrolled as a surgical resident at Roosevelt Hospital (now Mount Sinai West).

Mr. Webber met his wife, who was a dancer with American Ballet Theater, in 1983 when he was studying as a resident with the company’s in-house orthopedist, Dr. William Hamilton, and they began dating years later.

The two married in 1996. Dr. Webber is also survived by their two sons, Duncan and Michael.

“I was most proud of him because he was very well rounded,” Ms. Clark Webber said. “He had an understanding of the big picture. Barry was the guy you wanted in the operating room at all times.”

She added: “He died a hero. Selfless and loving. That’s how I will remember him.”



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