Dr. Robert Blake Barlow was born in Merlin, on the 10th of December, 1925. His parents were Dr. Henry Summers Barlow and the former Alice Smith. He had an older brother named Douglas, 2 younger brothers, Murray and Keith and a sister named Bonnie. He attended Merlin Public School until his family moved to Chatham in 1938. Dr. Barlow attended Central Public School and McKeough Public School in Chatham. Dr. Barlow received his high school education at Chatham Collegiate Institute. After he completed grade twelve in 1944, Dr. Barlow joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and trained as a pilot. Before he was to be deployed to Japan, World War II ended and Dr. Barlow completed his secondary education at the Meisterschaft School in Toronto. His brother Keith was killed in action in Italy, during the war.
Dr. Barlow enrolled in the ‘ex-service class of medicine’ at the University of Western Ontario. During his last summer of medical school, he accepted an internship at Chorley Park Military Hospital, in Toronto. He graduated M.D. in 1950, and completed an internship at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, in 1951.
Dr. Barlow married Janet Charlene Sheldrick on the 25th of June, 1949. She was the daughter of Challis Bennet Sheldrick and the former Ida Emily Clements. She had 3 older brothers; Albert (who died as an infant), Maxwell and George and an older sister named Marilyn. Her father was a tailor and the Sheldrick family residence was located at 7 Ellwood Ave in Chatham. Dr. and Mrs. Barlow were married at Glen Gordon Manor, which is located on the shores of Lake Erie in Kent County.
Dr. and Mrs. Barlow had 3 children; Howard, Debra, and Robert. They had two grand-daughters, Sarah and Kimberly.
Dr. Barlow returned to Chatham in 1949 and he joined his father’s Victoria Avenue medical practice. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Barlow opened his own general practice at 143 Thames Street, where he remained until his retirement from primary care in 1972.
During his medical career, Dr. Barlow was a delegate to the Ontario Medical Association, and he served as the President of the Kent County Medical Society in 1965. He also served as the Chief of General Practice at St. Joseph’s Hospital from 1960 until 1965, and he was Secretary of Staff at the Public General Hospital from 1957 to 1958.
Dr. Barlow initiated the development of Chatham’s ‘Nurses Registry’ in 1951. He was also very active in the medical community for a number of years. Dr. Barlow was the President of Windsor Medical Services, and he was the first member on the College of Physicians and Surgeon’s Medical Review Committee, a position which he held from 1971 to 1975. From 1966 to 1993, Dr. Barlow was the medical adviser to Homecare. Dr. Barlow also spent ten years reviewing disability pensions for the Ontario government’s Department of Community and Social Services. In the early 1990’s, he was appointed the Chairman of Appeals for Employment Insurance. Furthermore, Dr. Barlow created the medical programs for four large businesses in Chatham. In addition to his professional activities, he served on Chatham City Council as a Councillor for three terms.
In recognition of his dedication to the medical profession and local community, Dr. Barlow was honoured with the Glenn Sawyer Service Award in 1989.
In his spare time, Dr. Barlow enjoyed gardening and he enjoyed playing golf and bridge. Mrs. Barlow belonged to the May Court Club. She also volunteered with the St. Andrew’s Residence Auxiliary for over 30 years.
Mrs. Barlow died on the 8th of December, 2015. Dr. Barlow died on the 11th of October, 2018. They are buried at Maple Leaf Cemetery in Chatham.
*Dr. Barlow’s father, Dr. Henry Summers Barlow also appears on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute. Mrs. Barlow’s nephew, Dr. Peter Sheldrick also appears on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.
**Dr. Barlow and his brothers and his father appear on the Gathering Our Heroes website. Mrs. Barlow’s brother’s Maxwell and George (Sheldrick) and her sister Marilyn all served during WWII. They are all featured on the Gathering Our Heroes website. Her brother George was killed in action in Italy in 1945.