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Judith C Barker PhD
March 19, 1947 - March 28, 2023

Judith Colleen Barker died peacefully surrounded by friends and family in San Francisco on March 28, 2023, after suffering a serious stroke.

Judith, beloved wife of recently deceased Linda S Mitteness, was the daughter of Margaret & Leslie Barker, born March 19, 1947 in Petone, Wellington, New Zealand. 

She is survived by her brother, Peter R. Barker, MNZM, and his wife Jane McCann, their children David, Amy & her husband Ian Fay and their children Adam, Sophie & Lexi, all living in New Zealand. 

Judith did her undergraduate studies BSc Chemistry in New Zealand and post graduate studies at University of London MSc (Soc) in Sociology of Medicine. Typical of Judith’s adventurous spirit, she then took a year off to drive from London to Cape Town, South Africa with friends in a modified Land Rover.  Back in NZ, she completed an MA,  (Medicine as Social System and Knowledge) in Anthropology.

In 1979 she started a PhD program at UC San Francisco & Berkeley and began a 30-year academic career in America.  Her thesis was in Medical Anthropology “Social organization and health services for preschool children on Nuie Island, Western Pacific” which she completed in 1985, after 9 months of field work in Nuie and 3 months in Auckland, NZ. This seminal research is still being used today.

Judith embarked on the professorial career track at UCSF and retired in 2014 as Emeritus Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at UCSF. She was still publishing in 2022.  Her research work spanned such subjects as indigenous vulnerable children’s health and elder health, HIV Aids prevention among minority populations and children’s oral health.  She was one of the founding researchers of the Center to Address Disparities in Children’s Oral Health (CANDO) and continued interdisciplinary work across five faculties.


Judith was a lifelong learner, a wise teacher, a mentor, and member of editorial boards among them Medical Anthropology, Aging and Ethnicity, and Human Sexuality.  In 2009 she was elected Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and in 2011 won the Polgar Prize of the Society of Medical Anthropology for her paper on the oral health disparities of Mexican-American farm workers’ children.

Judith travelled widely – Africa, Asia, Americas, Pacific and Europe – with such insatiable curiosity that her family, who at times travelled with her, competed for the seat next to her on trains and planes to get firsthand historical geographic and anthropological commentary.  She was an avid gardener and handyperson.


In her retirement Judith continued consulting and writing, often debating issues with her wife and dear friends.

After her wife Linda’s death in November 2022, Judith set up the Linda Mitteness Memorial Fund through Linda’s church, St John’s United Church of Christ.

In lieu of flowers, Judith asked that donations be made to this fund to continue their support of social justice issues for LGBTQIA+, particularly for the mental health of transgender youth. Https://

A non-denominational celebration of Judith’s life will be held at St John’s UCC, San Francisco, 501 Laguna Honda Blvd (easily accessible by public transport) on 15 April at 3 pm with a reception to follow at the same place.

The celebration of Judith Barker’s life can also be watched at

 and select Zoom Link.

Online donations can be made here:

Checks can be sent to:

St. John’s UCC,

501 Laguna Honda Blvd,

San Francisco 94127

(With the notation Linda Mitteness Memorial Fund)

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