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Renowned surgeon, author Barclay dies

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A portrait of Dr. George W. Barclay, Jr. Courtesy of Elizabeth Joy SingletaryA portrait of Dr. George W. Barclay, Jr. Courtesy of Elizabeth Joy SingletaryBy Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – World-famous medical pioneer and author Dr. George Willis Barclay, Jr., died at his Woodville residence last Wednesday at the age of 92.

According to a caregiver, he died in the early morning hours and was with his beloved chihuahua, Clementine.

Barclay, who was a cardiologist and brought the procedure of heart catherization to Southeast Texas, was equally famous for his large body of literary work. Barclay wrote 45 novels, such as Murder on the San Jacinto and Murder on Pine Island Bayou, many of which feature sleuth Sandra Lerner.

He described his writing acumen as being about “mystery, mysticism, metaphysics, science fiction, mayhem and murder.” 

Prior to his careers in medicine and then writing, he wore many other hats, including a stint as a chemical engineer at Mobil Oil and service in the Army, where he worked to rise to the rank of captain.

His daughter-in-law Elizabeth Joy Singletary said that Barclay’s service began when he joined the Naval reserves during the Korean War. At the time, he was working for Mobil, and was not allowed to enlist when the draft began, as he was considered essential.

When the ban was lifted, Singletary said, he immediately joined the Army, and for a while was a member of both branches of the armed forces.

He decided to go to medical school when he came up for officers’ training school, and during his training, he studied alongside Drs. Michael E. Debakey and Denton Cooley, who were cardiovascular medicine pioneers.

Barclay practiced in Beaumont for more than 25 years and brought heart catherization to both Baptist and St. Elizabeth’s hospitals. 

Singletary said that after retiring from medicine, Barclay “transitioned from checking patients twice a day to checking his chickens twice a day, still making rounds.”

It was then that he also began travelling widely and a post-retirement career as a writer. Aside from his mystery novels, Barclay also studied the stock market closely, and wrote financial articles for various markets, and began a blog on financial matters when online blogging was in its infancy.

One aspect of his ancestry that gave Barclay great pride, and likely attributed largely to his decision to retire to Tyler County, where he developed properties, along with his other endeavors, was that his family were among some of the earliest settlers in the county.

His grandfather James Barclay was the first Indian Agent, before the county was established. Barclay’s father, George Sr., was a superintendent of schools in Tyler County.

Alongside his many other activities, Barclay was active and an athlete throughout his long life, Singletary said. When he was young, his nickname was “Rooster,” and he had the opportunity to play collegiate sports, but a knee injury turned him toward the academic side of the college experience. 

In his later life, he enjoyed fishing and loved the house he purchased, which formerly belonged to the late Don Forse, because it had a dancefloor. “He loved ballroom dancing, and it was his favorite form of exercise next to walking his dogs and fishing,” Singletary said.

A funeral service is scheduled for Sept. 17 for Barclay, with arrangements handled by Stringer and Griffin of Woodville.

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