Dr. W. Barton (“Bart”) Van Slyke, 97, died peacefully at home in Watertown, NY on January 12, 2023. He was born in Gouverneur, NY on August 16, 1925, the son of William M. Van Slyke and Gertrude (Slicer) Van Slyke. Extremely well organized his entire life, Bart even penned his own obituary. (Sorry Dad, we couldn’t resist a few edits.)
Bart’s childhood days were spent in Gouverneur where his father was a long-time mayor, pharmacist and co-owner of Van Slyke & Curtis Drug Store. He had an early interest in the Boy Scouts of America and became an Eagle Scout at age 15. That interest continued into young adulthood when he served as Waterfront Director for Boy Scout summer camps for four years prior to WWII and five years after the War for both the St. Lawrence and Rochester Boy Scout Councils.
A good student and four-sport athlete, Bart graduated from Gouverneur High School in 1943. Like many of his generation, Bart was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 (November) and was slated to go into the Army Specialized Training Program. This program was eliminated, however, and he was transferred into the 86th Army Division. As the “Battle of the Bulge” began, his Division was deployed to Europe. He saw action in the Rhur Pocket and in Southern Germany until the end of the war in Europe in April 1945. Bart was then redeployed to the Pacific Theatre in preparation for the invasion of Japan. He was honorably discharged in April 1946.
Later that year, Bart entered college in the pre-med program at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY. At SLU he enjoyed being a member of the ATO fraternity, playing football, and occasionally traveling back to his hometown to play basketball with the Gouverneur American Legion team.
In 1949 Bart enrolled in the University of Rochester Medical School. There he met and fell in love with his wife and best friend of almost 70 years, Anna Jane Morenus, a nursing student at the University of Rochester School of Nursing. They were married on June 6, 1953 in Cortland, NY.
Following medical school, the newly-minted Dr. Van Slyke spent one year (1953-1954) in a rotating internship at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville and did an internal medicine residency for two years (1954-1956) at the University of Colorado Medical Center in Denver (where his sons, David and Steven, were born). Bart and Ann then returned to his hometown of Gouverneur, NY where he practiced family medicine for thirteen years (and where his third son, Martin, was born).
In 1970 Bart began a three year diagnostic radiology residency at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, NY. The family lived in Baldwinsville, NY during this time. After his training, the family moved back to the North Country where he became a partner at Northern Radiology Associates in Watertown, NY. Bart formally retired from that practice in 1987 but continued to practice radiology intermittently as locum tenens in a number of hospitals in Maine, Michigan, New York, and Virginia until 1990.
Early in his career Bart became active in Planned Parenthood of Northern New York and was one of its original organizers and the first medical director. He was honored in 1978 by receiving the Alan F. Guttmacher award from Planned Parenthood World Population. In 2019 he received the Grace Wright Humanitarian Award for his work with Planned Parenthood.
Music and church played an important part in Bart’s life. He and Ann were deeply involved in Presbyterian Church activities wherever they lived. Bart was an Elder in both the Gouverneur and Watertown Presbyterian Churches. He sang as a teenager in the Gouverneur Presbyterian Church choir, at St. Lawrence University in the select choral group Laurentian Singers, and in the Baldwinsville and Watertown Presbyterian Church choirs. He was active in community theatre in both Baldwinsville and Watertown. Highlighting his stage career were lead parts as Fagin in Oliver, and the King in The King and I – each with Watertown Lyric Theatre.
Bart and Ann built their Sylvia Lake cottage in 1960 where family and friends have enjoyed many happy summer days. “Camp” was a place where Bart often displayed his prowess as a truly inventive handyman and a diving board backflip expert. He was a member of the Triple E and Dry Timber Lake hunting camps where he enjoyed many days with his closest friends. Upon retirement, he and Ann spent several years motor-homing across the Lower 48, as well as in Canada, Alaska, and Newfoundland.
In 2000, after many years of careful research, Bart published “The Van Slyke Family History” tracing his lineage from the Netherlands in 1634 to New York City to Schenectady and ultimately to Northern New York. As a result of his work, the Van Slyke’s lineage was accepted into the Holland Society of New York. Bart and Ann had many interesting adventures doing research at the National Archives in Washington and numerous county offices and cemeteries throughout the country.
Bart is survived by his wife, Anna Jane, and their three sons – David (Susan Granai) of Yarmouth, ME, Steven (Sharon) of Pittsford, NY, and Martin (Cindy) of Lake Almanor, CA. He is also survived by granddaughters Loraine Van Slyke (Mark Desiderio) and Anna Van Slyke (Matthew St. George), great-granddaughter Susan Desiderio, plus many beloved extended family members. Bart was predeceased by his sister, Barbara (Van Slyke) Anderson.
A celebration of Bart’s life will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 21, 2023 at Watertown First Presbyterian Church (403 Washington Street).
Contributions may be made in Dr. Barton Van Slyke’s memory to Planned Parenthood of Northern New York (161 Stone Street, Watertown, NY 13601) or the First Presbyterian Church (403 Washington Street, Watertown, NY 13601).