Barton Hulick

Obituary
  • "Dear Tracy, Sorry to learn of the loss of your husband. I..."
    - John Hogan
  • "It was an honor to care for such a wonderful man. Tracy,..."
    - Deana Gasbarro
  • "I only knew Doane through his amazing daughter, Johanna. ..."
    - Melinda Furrer
  • "Dear Tracy, My heart is sad, and my prayers are with you. ..."
  • "The Zarcadoolas sisters - Chris, Kathy and Mary - send our..."
    - Christina Zarcadoolas

HULICK, BARTON DOANE III, a reporter for The Providence Journal for 32 years who was best known for his coverage of Providence City Hall and the state's court system, died Monday night at the Philip Hulitar Inpatient Hospice Center after a tenacious, five-year battle with Stage IV lung cancer. He was 73 and the husband of Journal reporter Tracy Breton with whom he lived in the Edgewood section of Cranston. Born in Shelby, NC, he was the eldest son of the late Barton Doane Hulick Jr. and Grace (Gaddy) Hulick. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hulick served in the US Army before beginning his career as a journalist. He had no formal journalism training when he started his reporting career writing obituaries for the Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times but he quickly caught the attention of editors when he moved on to the Berkshire Eagle in Western Massachusetts. In 1970, he began his more than three -decade career as a reporter for The Providence Journal. Outside of work, Hulick was a man who took joy in simple pleasures - sailing his 31-foot Seawind ketch, cataloguing the wide array of birds - chickadees, snow birds, finches, and cardinals were his favorites - who came to feast at his bird feeders, raking leaves and hanging out with his Labrador Retrievers. There were three of them who lived with him and his wife at different times over the years, and he always made sure they had their "supper" before he'd sit down to eat his. He was a shy person socially with people he did not know well and confessed that interviewing strangers was something that didn't come naturally. But he could be a bull-dog as a reporter. Hulick covered city government during Vincent A. Cianci Jr's first terms, during a period of intense political conflict, as the city's first Italian mayor and first Republican mayor in decades took office. There was nearly non-stop conflict between the Democratic and heavily Irish City Council and the upstart Cianci. Bill Collins, who covered Providence City Hall with Hulick from 1975 to 1981, said of his close friend: "Although a native Southerner, Doane had a real feeling for the city's combative ethnic politics. He was also a relentless reporter who often disclosed unseemly words and deeds. Politicians did not look forward to receiving a call from Doane Hulick." Later, Hulick went on to cover the court beat. Former Journal colleague Bob Chiappinelli said that in that arena, "Doane fashioned wonderful glimpses into the human condition from seemingly ordinary court cases. But as a cancer patient, he crafted his most inspiring story, displaying an indomitable will to live and regularly expressing concern to family, friends and caregivers about their everyday troubles before they could even inquire about his mortal ones." Close friend and former Journal reporter Brian Jones, said: "Doane's powerful intellect, which made him a superb, caring journalist, plunged him into a relentless pursuit of many subjects, from computers and their mysterious software languages, to physics and politics and to the families of birds that landed in his Cranston backyard. He marshaled this mastery of difficult subjects to take command of his tenacious battle against his cancer. Always, as he triumphed again and again over dire odds, he was more concerned about the well-being of others than his own. It was clear to me that his determination to live was his gift, not to himself, but to the rest of us, whom he knew depended on his multiple roles as host, friend, father and counselor. He was alternatively amazed, delighted and humbled by his partnership with his wife, Tracy, comforted that together they bravely had found a final resting spot, to be forever among trees, beauty and, of course, the birds." He was grateful to the doctors who gave him hope as he fought his deadly disease: Dr. David Sugarbaker, the pioneering thoracic surgeon at Brigham & Women's Hospital who always reminded his patient that he should take it "one day at a time;" his pain management doctor, Dr. Sanjeet Narang of Brigham and Women's, Pentec Health nurse Kellyann Florentino; his pulmonologist, James Myers, primary care doctor, Frederick Crisafulli, and his Dana Farber oncologist Dr. Leena Gandhi. In addition to his wife, he is survived by two children, Johanna Petra Hulick and her partner, Sheldon Cooper, of Seattle, Wash.; a son, Jeremy Doane Hulick, of Washington, DC, a granddaughter, Ruby Luz Hulick-Cooper, of Seattle, a sister, Mary Hulick Riter, of Goldsboro, NC; a brother, Wilson Hulick, of Hickory, NC, and his beloved chocolate Labrador Retriever, Beamer, a gift from wonderful friends, Paul and Sandy MacLean. According to Hulick's wishes, there will be no funeral or memorial service and burial will be private. Calling hours for family and friends will be held Friday from 4 to 8 pm at the Jones Walton Sheridan Funeral Home, 1895 Broad St., Edgewood. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in the memory of Doane Hulick to the Colin Myers Memorial Fund, c/o The Rhode Island Foundation, One Union Station, Providence, RI 02903; Canine Companions for Independence, P.O. Box 446, Santa Rosa, Calf., or the National Audobon Society.
Published in The Providence Journal on Oct. 25, 2012
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