Dr. Robert Emmett Barsley, DDS, JD, age 67, passed away on Saturday, September 28, 2019, at his home in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. He was the son of the late Paul and Ethel Barsley.
An internationally renowned and well-published expert consultant and sought-after lecturer in the field of forensics, Dr. Barsleywas a Professor and Division Head at the LSU School of Dentistry in New Orleans and served as Director of Hospital and Community Dentistry for the LSUSD Department of Oral Health Services.
A 1977 graduate of LSUSD, Dr. Barsleybecame a full-time faculty member in 1982, one week after the crash of a PanAm jet at Moisant Field. He worked with faculty and students in a successful effort to aid law enforcement in identifying the more than 150 victims of that tragedy.
Dr. Barsley graduated from Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans in 1987 and was admitted to the Louisiana Bar that same year. Since then, he served as a consultant to numerous coroners’ offices in southern Louisiana and was on staff at the coroners’ offices in both Orleans and Jefferson parishes.
As a member of DMORT Region VI (United States Public Health Service), he served an extended tour of duty in the dental section of the hurricanes Katrina and Rita morgues in St. Gabriel and Carville, Louisiana, where he directed scores of dentists from all over the United States in identifying the hundreds of victims brought to the morgue. This six-month detail, using virtually all forms of forensic science, resulted in nearly all of the bodies being identified and returned to their families for burial.
Dr. Barsleywas co-chair of the Odontology Section of the Scientific Working Group on Disaster Victim Identification funded by the National Institute of Justice and the FBI.
In addition, he was a fellow of the American College of Dentists, the International College of Dentists, the Pierre Fauchard Academy, and the Odontology Section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciencesfor which he served as its 65th president and received the ReidarSognnaes Award for Excellence in Forensic Dentistry.
In 1998-99, Dr. Barsley served as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Congressional Health Policy Fellow in the office of Senator John Breaux. He served as a delegate to the American Dental Association (ADA) House of Delegates and wasthe former chairman of the ADA Council on Access, Prevention, and Interprofessional Relations.
In 2015, Dr. Barsley was awarded both the LSU School of Dentistry Alumnus of the Year Award and the New Orleans Dental Association Honor Dentist Award.
Locally, Dr. Barsleywas a member of the North Oaks Board of Directors, the Strawberry Festival Committee and the Ponchatoula Rotary Club. From 2004-2012, he was the Magistrate for the City of Ponchatoula Mayor's Court.A 1970 Ponchatoula High graduate, Dr. Barsley attended Rhodes in Memphis and LSU before entering LSUSD. In 2015, he served on the John Bel Edwards Healthcare Transition Team.
He was beloved by his friends, and his generous spirit and thoughtful nature endeared him to all who knew him.
Dr. Barsley leaves behind his wife of 45 years, Gwen Ballard Barsley, and their daughter Emily who is in her first year of residency atthe LSU School of Medicine in Shreveport. He is also survived by his sisters Paula Gatlin and Liz LaPlante (Tim), his brother-in-law Edward Ballard and sisters-in-law Sandra Moore (Bob) and Donna Devall (Tony), as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death by his parents along with his two favorite great-uncles, Emmett Irwin and Kernan Irwin.
Family and friends are invited to attend the visitation for Dr. Barsley on Sunday, October 27, 2019, at the Ponchatoula Jr. High auditorium, 315 East Oak Street, Ponchatoula, Louisiana 70454, beginning at 1:00 PM until the memorial service begins at 2:30 PM. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the North Oaks Foundation online at www.northoaks.org/foundation, or mailed to P.O. Box 1239, Hammond, LA 70404.