Anthony Joseph "Tony" Barak made liver research his vocation and history his avocation.
He researched the role of betaine in reducing fatty liver infiltration and other subjects during a 40-year study he ran at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The research augmented his work as a full-time professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Barak also kept one foot firmly in the past.
He researched, spoke about and wrote about Robert Gilder, Logan Fontenelle, the Spanish conquistadors and more.
Barak, 89, died Saturday at ComfortCare Homes of Omaha, said daughter Mary Barak-Bernhagen of Omaha. He had cancer and had suffered a stroke, Barak-Bernhagen said.
"Dad loved history," she said.
Anthony Barak became interested in history while still a boy in Petersburg, Neb. Local lore said Logan Fontenelle, chief of the Omaha Tribe, had been killed near Petersburg.
Barak was about 14 when his family moved to Omaha.
He became friends with and began working for the much-older Gilder, a Bellevue archaeologist, artist and former World-Herald journalist who was known worldwide for his landscape paintings.
Young Barak helped with Gilder's archaeological digs in Fontenelle Forest, said Barak-Bernhagen.
Later in life, he loved to give talks about his time with Gilder, she said. After one such talk, someone gave him a piece of Gilder art. "Dad cherished that Gilder painting," she said.
Barak served in the Navy in World War II, attaining the rank of lieutenant commander. He served as a landing assault boat officer in numerous Pacific Theater campaigns, including New Guinea, the Philippines and Okinawa.
After the war, Barak received bachelor's and master's degrees in biochemistry from Creighton University. He earned a doctoral degree in biochemistry in 1953 from the University of Missouri at Columbia and joined the UNMC faculty.
Throughout his career, he published more than 150 scientific and medical papers.
He also published three novels: "The Mongrel," about the life of Logan Fontenelle; "The Gold of Quivira," about Spanish conquistadors; and "The Order of the Deep," about his wartime experiences in the Pacific.
Besides his daughter, Barak is survived by his wife of 61 years, Cecelia Roseann Ryan Barak of Omaha; their children, Jennifer Cook of Cambridge, Ohio, and Omahans Jeffrey Barak, Douglas Barak and Cynthia Durham; and nine grandchildren.
A funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church, 11802 Pacific St.
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