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When Dr. Uhr opened his practice in Dallas, his office and mine were in the same building. His was just around the corner. Having been in practice about 10 years by that time, I was occasionally booked up and needed to ask Barry to help me out when a patient of mine needed care urgently. He never said no, and irrespective of his own schedule he took that additional responsibility graciously.
After a too short period of time, he left this building to join the practice of Dr. Kenneth Foree, and there he flourished. He continued his association with Dr. Foree and Dr. Bill Berry at Baylor University Medical Center until illness intervened.
In addition to his medical practice, Barry found time to accept leadership responsibilities in virtually every organization he joined. He was president of—and the list is lengthy—the Dallas County Medical Society, the Dallas Academy of Ophthalmology, and the Texas Ophthalmology Association. In addition, he was on the board of trustees of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. I was privileged to serve with him on Dallas' delegation to the TMA House of Delegates. There, Barry fell into his accustomed role as a leader and became chair of the delegation.
In an era when medical advertising has become accepted right up there with deodorants and foundation repair, Barry practiced advertising “the old-fashioned way”: superb medical and surgical care along with a genuine concern for his patients—these were Barry's “ads.”
I am proud to have been his friend and colleague.
Very few people have had as much impact on my life as Barry Uhr. His leadership skills and personal integrity were always on display to those who worked with him and for him throughout his long and illustrious career. In our 15 years of practicing together, I was constantly impressed with his warmth of spirit and his desire to help others. I never passed by one of his examination rooms without hearing him take time to encourage and entertain one of his patients with a joke or humorous tale. On more than one occasion his faithful nurse Robin would have to rustle him out of the room as he began falling behind schedule amidst all the laughing. As is true for all doctors, Barry was not able to fix every ophthalmic problem his patients brought him, but I know that every patient left our office feeling better for having spent time with him. He was that rare kind of person.
Besides being an excellent ophthalmologist, Barry was an amazing photographer and composed beautiful poetry as well. Our office walls are gracefully adorned with his photographs and poems, placed there for the enjoyment of his patients. He played the role of counselor as well, solving office conflict with his unique blend of wisdom, kindness, and compassion. Nevertheless, what impressed me most about Barry was his innate ability to fix anything, anywhere armed with nothing more than perhaps a screwdriver and an endless amount of patience.
I can still vividly recall the first time I spoke with Barry Uhr back in 1995. As a newly minted ophthalmologist beginning practice in Dallas, I had become discouraged by the prospect for a successful future working in this city. Medicare was in the middle of its RBRVS cutbacks, and ophthalmologists throughout the city were banding together into ever larger groups to weather the coming storm. During the course of our conversation, Barry was able to sense my disillusionment and offered me the lifeline that would enable me to grow and develop my practice into more than I ever hoped it would be. With his constant mentoring and a steady flow of encouragement, he consistently modeled the qualities that enabled him to be such a superb physician.
Having lost my father to cancer as a very young man, I sorely missed the fatherly advice and presence that would have been mine as I struggled to find my way in early adulthood. Barry, along with our partner William Berry, in no small way filled that paternal role, gently and steadfastly nurturing and mentoring me with great patience for the last 15 years. The greatest strength of our partnership has been a familial trust in each other and an assurance that any decision made by one would benefit us all.
Even as he was in the midst of his long struggle, Barry felt it was most important to focus on me in our last conversations together. I think he wanted to make sure that I wasn't overburdened in the office during his absence and that I was making time for my young family. He shared with me his great love for his family and friends and wanted to make sure I made time for that too. He regaled me again with tales of his travels and told me how fulfilled he felt in his life that he had been able to visit so many far-flung and interesting places with his wife, Karen, and his children.
I will sorely miss my partner, friend, and mentor, but he will live on in my heart and memories and in those of his many colleagues, patients, and friends; all of us living better, far richer lives for having known and loved him.
Barry Uhr was a doctor's doctor, meaning he was professional in every way. He saw many physicians and physician families as patients—always thoroughly, carefully, and with a bit of humor.
Barry and I served on the Dallas County delegation to the Texas Medical Association for many years where he brought wisdom, experience, and common sense. We were also on the board of directors of the Dallas County Medical Society at the same time, and he succeeded me as president of that organization. During his induction ceremony I had to reach high and he performed a knee-bend in order for me to place the president's medallion over his head. I thought it was more like a curtsy, but he took the teasing later with grace and good humor.
He also served capably on the board of directors of Southwest Physician Associates including chairman for 7 years and paved the way for me and others who followed him. By giving of his time to professional organizations, he served other physicians and the profession itself. He led by example and was a model for many physicians to emulate. He will be missed with respect and fondness.
Barry Uhr was a doctor's doctor. Many Baylor physicians considered Barry their ophthalmologist. We knew skill and competence when we saw it. His quiet, low-key manner was reassuring to patients and inspired confidence. His office staff was a reflection of his personality, warm and caring. However, on more than one occasion he gently let me know that faulty vision was not the cause of my faulty tennis.
As many of you are aware, Barry had extraordinary talents beyond medicine, particularly in photography and poetry, as well as being a devoted husband and father. But to me the most impressive and inspiring aspect of Barry was his response to his serious and ultimately fatal illness. He endured many difficult and painful problems during the last 9 months with optimism and a remarkable strength of character. He persevered with a quiet dignity through times when others would have given up.
Barry was the ultimate example of a life well and courageously lived. He and his family loved their place in Destin. I believe he is even now strolling on that beautiful white sand and gazing at the crystal clear emerald gulf. At peace at last.
I knew Barry Uhr, MD, as a colleague on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center, as a coworker in the Dallas County Medical Society and Texas Medical Association, as my own ophthalmologist, and as a friend. Barry was a highly competent and ethical doctor. By putting the interests of his patients first, taking the time to talk to them and explain their problems and the solutions, he exemplified professionalism.
His ever-present smile and positive attitude made difficult decision making easier. He continually had a strong voice for the profession of medicine and for our patients. He always sought to have the most accurate and current information on any subject. We worked together in organized medicine during difficult times when government and insurance companies were making incursions into the practice of medicine. He continually advocated strongly for physicians and patients.
He was an avid photographer and poet. He could see beauty in so many things and was skilled at recording them with the camera and the written word. His sense of humor was evident in his poetry.
He loved his family and enjoyed spending time with them at their lake house and condominium in Destin, Florida. Karen was not only his loving wife but also his partner in their many projects.
During the illness that took his life, he maintained a positive view, a sense of humor, and a strong interest in knowing what was happening. His response to his illness was courageous and positive.
His years of service to his patients, to his family and friends, and to the medical profession form his rich legacy. He was a good friend, and those of us who knew him will miss him.