Robert Barton, Retired Judge, Moderator, College Trustee, Dies at 91

Judge Robert A. Barton ~ Image, Mike Rosenberg (c) 2021 all rights reserved

Robert A. Barton, a former Bedford selectman and town moderator who became one of the state’s most renowned Superior Court judges, died late Friday at age 91.

Arrangements for a memorial service are pending.

Barton, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, was an attorney with an office in Lexington when he was elected a Bedford selectman in the late 1960s. He subsequently served for several years as moderator until his appointment as a Superior Court judge.

During his years on the bench, he presided over some of the most challenging and visible trials, continuing until he reached mandatory retirement age.

Patrick Cook, executive director for public affairs at Middlesex Community College, had a relationship with Barton that began some 40 years ago when he covered Superior Court as a reporter. Barton was “somebody that reporters loved to work with. He knew they had a necessary job and he respected them for it. But he made sure they weren’t going to interfere with due process.”

Cook said Barton would find opportunities during a trial to teach – reporters, attorneys, court officials — “and he was great like that.”

Their paths crossed again during Barton’s ten years as a Middlesex Community College trustee, after which he was named to the board of the College Foundation. His association with Middlesex actually began when, as selectmen chair, he cut the ribbon opening the college in 1970, when it occupied two buildings at the VA Hospital.

In recent years, Cook related, he would join Barton, Trustees Chair James Campbell, former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, and former State Police Lt. Bob Long for lunch at Red Heat, where “the judge held court. Everybody still called him ‘your honor. It spoke to the power of his legacy.”

Corrections ~ 5/23/2022: James Campbell is the current chair of the Middlesex Community College Trustees, not the former chair as previously reported. 5/25/2022: Judge Barton was 91 at the time of his death, not 92 as previously reported. The Citizen regrets these errors.

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Cathy Cordes
May 23, 2022 5:19 pm

Judge Barton was the Town Meeting Moderator when we moved to town. I was in awe of how he managed TM. He certainly taught me how a great town meeting is run. He will be missed but he leaves a wonderful legacy in Bedford and in the state.