Brandon H. Barton, D.D.S., ’80
"I have a responsibility to give back, keep the legacy alive, and pass the torch."
"They [Meharry] gave me an opportunity that allowed me to provide a good living for my family. Now, I have a responsibility to give back, keep the legacy alive, and pass the torch. That's how the game has always been played. We should never forget our ancestors who made the ultimate sacrifice for us to have these opportunities."
This advice was offered to Brandon H. Barton, D.D.S., ’80 by an alumnus from Meharry's School of Dentistry when he started out as a young dentist. Throughout his career, he has never forgotten the wisdom of these words.
Born in Oakridge, Tenn., and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Barton graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in chemical engineering. His friendship with James M. Murphy, D.D.S., a 1974 graduate of Meharry's School of Dentistry, who practiced general dentistry in Cincinnati, helped influence his decision to become a dental surgeon.
Choosing to attend Meharry was not a difficult one. "I had numerous relatives that graduated from Tennessee State University and lived in the Nashville area. We came to Nashville often," said Barton. "In 1975, I came to visit the dental school and the first person I met was Robert D. Wood, D.D.S., now deceased, who was then the head of the dental radiology department. Dr. Wood stopped what he was doing, took time to give me a tour of the dental school and introduced me to quite a number of students and staff. I was so impressed that he would go out of his way for someone he had just met. I knew Meharry was where I wanted to be and recognized the 'family' atmosphere immediately. My choice was made."
After graduating from Meharry in 1980, Barton moved to Detroit. His first job was
with John Smith, D.D.S., '58 (who is now deceased), past president of the Detroit
Chapter of Meharry's Alumni Association and a former member of Meharry's Board of
Through Dr. Smith, Barton was immediately drafted to work with the local alumni chapter and quickly learned what it meant to pass that torch. "I met several physicians and dentists who were Meharrians and became impressed with their passion to give back to Meharry and help the institution any way they could," said Barton. "They had a philosophy that I still regard today: 'We have a responsibility to our people to keep Meharry open for future generations and help the recent graduates become successful.'"
Dr. Barton and his wife, Lauren Hicks Barton, M.D., a 1980 graduate of Meharry's School of Medicine, began giving back to their alma mater in 1983. "Lauren and I both know the importance of carrying on Meharry's legacy and we strongly believe in its mission," said Barton. "Meharry gave me a great education and training that allowed me to open and operate a successful practice, along with the advice and support from other Meharry dentists in the area. Now, we have to help future generations. We both believe in doing what we can to ensure Meharry will still be here in 100 years and more."
Barton has remained an active alumnus. He was the president of Meharry's National
Alumni Association from 2001 until 2003. Also, in 2001, he became an alumni member
of Meharry's Board of Trustees and later, a regular member where he remains active.
In September 2012, he was named Legislative Chairman of the National Dental Association.
Dr. Lauren Hicks Barton is chief physician at Chrysler, LLC and her father, Lawrence Hicks, M.D., was 1950 graduate of Meharry's School of Medicine. He was a general practitioner in Pensacola, Fla.
A proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, Dr. Barton practices general dentistry in Detroit and has three adult children, Brandon Harris, M.D.'04, Brandi and Brandon III.