Max Norris Barton
Max Norris Barton, 92, completed his circle of life on Feb. 22, 2021. Max was born to Fred F. and Florence McCracken Barton on June 30, 1928 in Pittsburg, Kan.
The son of a brick mason and a former teacher, Max and his five siblings grew up appreciating the arts of craftsmanship and developing vivid imaginations. Max’s parents moved where the jobs were, to Goodland and Dodge City, Kan., until the Depression became widespread, then moved back to Bourbon County near numerous cousins, where the Bartons from Ohio and McCrackens from Iowa first settled in 1881. His mother raised the children while his father was away working on the government CCC projects. Helping their mother scrape out an existence on a small farm, the children made costumes, learned musical instruments and putting on plays and attended Rocky Vale Elementary School. After eighth grade promotion, 14-year-old Max decided he would “just go fishing.” He contributed to the family coffers by hunting, fishing and trapping for two years before deciding to complete his education. Max then bought his first motorcycle and headed west each summer between classes to work on the Akins farm near Burdett, Kan., returning to graduate from Labette County High School in 1948. After trying his hand as a farmer, and as a welder in Wichita, he settled on his father’s trade and became a brick mason in 1949.
Max was a member of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen’s Union Local 15 and received his 70-year service award in 2019. His first and favorite job was on the crew that built the William Allen White library in Emporia, Kan.
Max and Betty Kay Elmore have celebrated 64 years together, meeting in Altamont and marrying on May 19, 1957 in Cherryvale, Kan. They resided in Parsons, Russell, Kansas City, Fort Scott, and moved to Paola in 1971. After a brief time in Oklahoma City, Max returned and worked for the Dazey Corporation and the Cider Press factory. Max and Betty retired and made their home in rural Louisburg in 1986. Max was a forerunner in the Farm to Table movement and was always busy in his organic garden, hunting or fishing from his cabin on the Neosho River near Oswego, and preserving and cooking the results. He sold excess produce at local outlets, excelling in tomatoes and melons. His last experiment was a successful grapevine. Max did not know the meaning of sitting still. He was an intuitive shade tree mechanic, a self-taught guitarist and an advocate of repairing, recycling and repurposing salvageable goods. He enjoyed photography and looking at old pictures. His biggest joys were listening to old country music, boating down the river, sitting around a campfire with friends and family sharing stories and playing guitars, tending his beagle Sally, and riding his motorcycle.
Max was preceded in death by his parents, three sisters, one brother and his son, Tony Norris Barton.
He is survived by his wife, Betty, his daughter Mitzi Barton (Wes) Hutcherson of Casa Grande, Ariz., and his daughter-in-law, Lisa Fri Barton of La Cygne; granddaughter Miranda Hutcherson (Slavko) Pavlovic of Casa Grande, Ariz., and grandsons Tony Mitchell (Megan) Barton of Olathe and Jason Barton of LaCygne; great-grandchildren Abram, Zane, and Marlowe Barton and one brother, Ned Barton of Bartlesville, Okla., several cousins and friends, and his beagle dog, Sally #3.
Graveside service will be at Osawatomie Cemetery, Osawatomie, Kan., 2 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 under the direction of Dengel & Son Mortuary, 305 N. Pearl St., Paola, KS, 66071. www.dengelmortuary.com