Mary Ruth Barton

Our longtime treasurer, Mary Ruth Barton of Columbia, Missouri died Monday, Jan. 22, 2001, at Boone Hospital Center. She was 81.
Mrs. Barton was active in the community, serving as the co-chairwoman of the International Student Hospitality Committee at MU. Mrs. Barton was also a deacon and chairwoman of the Bereavement Committee at First Baptist Church.

Mrs. Barton received her teaching degree from Eastern Kentucky State Teachers' College in 1940. She was a captain in the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps during World War II.

Mrs. Barton was born on Aug. 15, 1919, in Anderson County, Ky., to Delbert and Cecile Etta Harp Catlett. She married Claude D. Barton on July 19, 1946, in Fort Meyer, Va.

Services were conducted by John Baker and the Rev. Bob Russell Thursday January 25 at First Baptist Church, Columbia, and burial followed at Memorial Park Cemetery.

Mrs. Barton is survived by her husband, Claude Barton, of Columbia; three daughters, Claudia Barton Welsh of College Station, Texas, Judith Barton Gibbons of Richardson, Texas and Catherine Barton Para of Boonville; and five grandchildren.

Memorials amounting to more than $1000.00 were made in Mrs. Barton’s honor to the Missouri Folklore Society. At the January 27 meeting of the Board of Directors, a moment of silence was observed, and the annual meeting of the Missouri Folklore Society in Independence witnessed a moving tribute by daughter Cathy, who presented an original poem, and her husband Dave Para, who sang with Cathy an original setting of Longfellow’s “A Psalm of Life”

"Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not written of the soul."

As Dave said, "She was our biggest fan; she attended every Big Muddy Folk Festival, and countless performances Cathy and I

 gave in and out of the state. She was a friend and inspiration to all who knew her.”

Cathy also presented an orignal poem in honor of her mother, the text of which appears below:

                        For My Mother,
                           Ruth Barton
For years in the life of the First Baptist Church
My mother was known as a writer of verse,
Honoring those who gave of their time,
Who gave of their talents, their hearts and their minds ---
Now the poet Ruth Barton deserves her own rhyme.

But what can I say in just a few lines
That would begin to describe this mother of mine?
For she was much more than mere words can express;
Still, I’ve found one apt phrase I think captures her best.
She loved life and lived life and gave of her life.
She made three daughters happy, made a wonderful wife,
She made a good WAC, she taught and consoled,
She mourned with the grieving, she laughed with us all.
She fixed thousands of meals, did it all with a smile,
She was MFS treasurer for years, even while
Her cancer was growing – still, she wouldn’t show it;
She’d keep right on working and make sure few would know it.
She loved life and loved people through her eighty-one years,
So don’t think of my mother with sorrow and tears;
Think of my mom in our gathering here.

Think of my mom when Judy Domeny sings,
For the joy that it brought her, for the joy it now brings.
Think of my mom when you hear fiddles play
And hear Gladys spin tales of those long-ago days.
Think of her in the songs that Irwin Rice sings,
Think of Jim Hickam and his “Butterbeans”;
Then picture my mom right here in this place,
And picture her here with a smile on her face.

My mom’s in the words that ‘Dolf Schroeder says,
She’s in Knox’s waltzes and his “Spanish Two-Step”.
My mom’s here with Dad,
And with Dave and with me,
And through all the years this society meets,
She’ll be sitting right there at the table to greet
All of the registrants as they first arrive;
And as long as this society shall grow and shall thrive,
We need only remember ---
And her spirit’s alive.

Cathy Barton Para

There followed a moving reminiscence by Mrs. Barton's bereaved husband, Col. Claude Barton, now a member of the Society’s Board of Directors. Mrs. Barton will be sorely missed, but her shining example of long and selfless service will live on.


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