Dr. O'Neill Barrett Jr.

March 21, 1929July 1, 2017

COLUMBIA Dr. O’Neill Barrett Jr. MD, 88, died on Saturday, July 1, 2017. Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on March 21, 1929, he was the son of Hazel Lauman and O’Neill Barrett, Sr. Dr. Barrett received his Bachelor degree and MD degree from Louisiana State University and his MSc degree from Baylor University. He served as a member of the U.S. Army Medical department from 1953 to 1973. He also served as a faculty member at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine for sixteen years, retiring in 1994. Surviving are his daughter, Deborah Clements; sons, Michael and William Barrett; grandchildren, Sara Curtis and Brooke Barrett; stepdaughter, Misty Leppard (Randy); and stepson, Skip Williams (Mary); step-grandchildren, Dusty and Melody Leppard, Fletcher, Melissa and Benjamin Williams. He was predeceased by his wife, Elois Stone Barrett and his brother, Robert Eugene Barrett. A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday July 5, 2017. Wildewood Downs, 731 Polo Road, Columbia, SC. Interment and Military Honors will follow at a later date at Ft. Jackson National Cemetery. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the University of South Carolina Educational Foundation in memory of Dr. O'Neill Barrett. Gifts should be directed to the USC School of Medicine's Alumni Scholarship Fund. Checks may be mailed to the USC Educational Foundation, Office Of Gift Processing, 1027 Barnwell Street, Columbia, SC 29208.


Dr. O'Neill Barrett Jr.

have a memory or condolence to add?


receive updates when new memories are posted

Brian Snell

August 14, 2017

In Nha Trang, South Vietnam, in 1962, Dr. Barrett looked after my father, a US Marine Captain acting as an advisor to a South Vietnamese Marine battalion. Dad had contracted a drug-resistant strain of falciparum malaria. Dr. Barrett wrote about this in his book "Not Much of a War", though he had the name of my father wrong - it was Bradley, not Dudley, Snell. I don't remember Dr. Barrett, my being 7 years old then, but remember visiting the Field Hospital to see Dad. The hospital at that time was a large tent - my sister and I called it "The Tent Hospital" - and there were few patients other than my father, but there was a Vietnamese child lying on one of the cots. She had been burned by napalm. In 2010 I exchanged letters with Dr. Barrett. He very kindly sent my a copy of his book, and a photo of that Vietnamese girl being held by an American nurse. He said that she was "our favorite". He also asked about my mother, who he also mentions in his book. "I would be grateful to know if anyone else commented about her murmur and whether or not she was described as having Barlow's syndrome". As it happened, my mother learned, after a heart cath just a few months prior to Dr. Barrett's and my exchange of letters, that she had/has mitral valve prolapse. She does not remember being examined by Dr. Barrett in Nha Trang. What a remarkable person Dr. Barrett was. I am grateful for what he did for my father.

Stewart G. (Greg) Young

July 23, 2017

In the summer of 1981, at 30 years of age, I reported for medical school, and remember Dr. Barrett laying down two primary principles, straight away: be a hungry detective, like Sherlock Holmes, in particular; and, don't wear your stethescope around your neck.

Sometime, during this century, I had the inestimable - and, overwhelming - privilege of seeing Dr. Barrett as a patient. It goes without saying that I waltzed into the exam room with my stethescope around my neck; and, that, gentleman that he was, he mentioned nothing of it!

He had been the first U.S. Army physician at the first Army Field Hospital in Vietnam - a war I missed, quite literally, by one day, as the ship I and my Marine Corps helicopter were on arrived a day late for the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.

Dr. Barrett had started the Internal Medicine program at Madigan Army Hospital in Tacoma, WA, just a few years after I was born there; my Father had flown for the USAF in Vietnam; and, my medical partner of 29 years had lost his West Point graduate brother there, in a war often referred to as "Not much of a war" - a misnomer, if ever there was one, as it turned out; so we enjoyed discussing all of those threads in my office, which there would never have been time for in medical school.

I highly recommend reading Dr. Barrett's tome, "...not much of a war...", easily found online. I shall treasure my copy, with it's warm personal note from The Good Doctor.


James Oakman

July 12, 2017

Instructor, friend and colleague, patient. In every phase I knew him, O'Neill Barrett was a gentleman and ever inquisitive. He was a repository of information and knew how to keep his anecdotes salient. He routinely brought out the very best in others. I can think of no greater compliment.

July 5, 2017

My father and Dr. Barrett became fast friends at Tripler Hospital in Honolulu at the height of the Vietnam war. Tripler was where the most serious of the wounded from Vietnam were sent. Dr. Barrett was also a neighbor at Fort Kam at the entrance to Pearl Harbor. What many may not know is that at one point in his long army career he was the personal physician to Mamie Eisenhower.

My father was instrumental in persuading Dr. Barrett and his lovely wife Elois to settle in Columbia after his retirement from the army. Once again the folks and Dr. Barrett became neighbors on Windsor lake.

It was during this period that I really came to know and respect Dr. Barrett on my visits to Columbia. He was a man of great intelligence and strong opinions. It was always fun to joust with him over a cold martini. I offer his family my deepest sympathy. He was a great man. He wrote an autobiography that he entitled "The Luck of the Irish". After reading it, I later told him that I thought luck had nothing to do with his success in life. It was his intelligence, drive, and hard work.

If one of his family could contact me, I would deeply appreciate it. My email address is

T Jefferson Crane, MD

July 5, 2017

I remember the day when Dr. Barrett taught me and a small group of fellow med students the proper way to take blood pressures on one of our early clinical experiences at U of SC School of Med, Columbia. I remember him emphasizing that good clinicians must continue to go to the microscope and the laboratory to understand their patient's diseases. Today, in Ukraine, I continue to be influenced by his high standards of excellence and bedside approach as I teach the same to young doctors here. Thank you, Dr. Barrett, for all that you have given to us in medicine.

Reta Campbell

July 5, 2017

I had the privilege of being Dr. Barrett's secretary when he became Chairman of the Department of Medicine at USCSOM. He was the best boss I had ever had. He shared his love of bird watching and particularly a red-tailed hawk he would watch from his office window. He was always the teacher and always a friend. He was especially proud of a young lady named Sarah. My prayers are with you at this time. He was my friend as well as my boss and one I will never forget.

July 5, 2017

Dr. Barrett's Moring report proved the most valuable teaching time at the school,of medicine, for it taught medical students how to think and me how to teach. O'Neill taught more than facts about medicine. He used to say " It is not just if it can be done - referring to a particular medical treatment - but whether (it should be done). Wise. His devotion to students and faculty set the standard.

Tears come as I look at his photo and remember the friendship he extended to Dee and me after his retirement. Our thoughts are with his family.

K. McFarland

K. McFarland

Charles & Barbara Buckley

July 4, 2017

For us, Neil and Elois Barrett were much loved across-the-street neighbors. We will always remember her Amaretto Freezes and his sailing excursions on the lake. As great a doctor as people say he was, he was also as great a neighbor.

Angela Harper

July 4, 2017

I met Dr. Barrett while serving with him on the Admissions Committee at the School of Medicine, after he had retired. His reputation as a physician, clinician, teacher, and leader were legendary. My husband and I were fortunate enough to develop a friendship with him over a mutual love of bird watching and good cheeseburgers. Even though I missed out on his "formal" teaching while in medical school, I feel fortunate to still have been able to have him as a presence in my life and one who significantly shaped my career. He was always willing to offer advice and guidance whenever I asked. He never stopped learning, reading, and striving for knowledge. Medical ethics and patient care were always on his mind. I miss my mentor and my friend. He has meant so much to so many.

George W. Watt, MD

July 4, 2017

With the passing of O'Neill Barret, medicine has lost one of it's best practitioners. As colleagues at USCSOM, and through the years until his retirement, I was always in awe of his unique talents as an educator of young physicians. Sir William Olsler, recognized as perhaps the greatest educator in the field of medicine, has had many throughout history follow in his footsteps- surely Dr. Barrett was one of those select few. Those of us who knew him will no doubt agree. Rest In Peace dear friend.