Dr. William Barakett practiced medicine in Knowlton and Cowansville for almost 50 years. He was the driving force behind the establishment of the Knowlton Clinic at the Community Centre, at the same time building the reputation and finances of the Brome Mississquoi Perkins Hospital.
Most of all, Bill Barakett was a hands-on doctor who saw patients every day. He was so dedicated that many years on Christmas Day he and his wife Janie would be at the hospital visiting patients. Since 1978 Dr. Barakett and his family lived in a house in Knowlton on the same street as the new clinic.
William Barakett was born in Trois Rivieres in May of 1945. His father Ellya was an immigrant from Syria; his mother Rose was born in Montreal of Syrian parents. Bill struggled in school until it was found he needed glasses. From then on, he shone. He studied medicine at McGill University, and after graduating, he wanted to study internal medicine at the University of British Columbia. But he broke his leg skiing and in 1972 ended up taking a part-time slot at a clinic in Cowansville with Dr. Bob Pincott and Dr. David Tector.
“He loved it. He found he could do so many different things in a small country practice that he couldn’t do in a big city,” said his wife.
As a young doctor, Bill Barakett took an interest in addiction, first by observing meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. He started treating people with addictions, first alcohol, then drugs and of late, opioids. People trusted him.
“Bill didn’t judge people. He understood that early on,” said Janie Barakett. “The phone would ring in the middle of the night, and he would stay up and talk to them.”
Dr. Barakett was the medical director of the BMP for 25 years and was president of its Foundation. He was a tireless fundraiser for the hospital. His experience was valuable to other GPs, and for several years he was vice-president of the Quebec General Practitioners Federation. He was also President and Chairman of the Board of the Butters Foundation for people with intellectual disabilities, from 2001 until his death. He was instrumental in raising over $10M for this organization. In recent years he was medical advisor to Dunham House, a treatment centre in West Brome.
“It is a great loss for the community,” Dr. Michel Camirand, a family physician from Sutton, told the CBC. “I have known him since 1982, and I have worked with him at the Brome Mississquoi Hospital in Cowansville since that time. His engagement toward his patients, his community and the profession were the major marks of his career.”
Dr. Barakett was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 2002. The citation said in part: “William Barakett is known as a family doctor who goes beyond the call of duty….A former leader in numerous professional organizations, he is a model of dedication and caring for young general practitioners.”
Dr. Barakett is survived by his wife Janie, his children, Elise and David, a granddaughter, Addison and his sister, Joyce. He was predeceased by his brother Lawrence and his sister Nita.