Barry Lynn Burton
Fayetteville GA / Norton VA – Barry Lynn Burton, January 20, 1948 – February 24, 2021.
Son, father, brother, uncle, friend, husband, lover, athlete, painter, engineer, teacher, photographer, musician, and avid reader. Barry was born in Norton, Virginia to Elbert Ray Burton and Eva Jean Goins, a WWII veteran and coal miner and the young beauty who worked at “the Company store” in Roda, who both passed on before him. He is survived by his brother, G.C. Burton; daughters, Amy Elizabeth Loggins (Thomas) and Lori Jean Donahoo (Ryan); his son, Brantley Ray; his grandsons, Jacob, Samuel, and Joshua Loggins; and granddaughters, Lottie and Eva Kathleen.
Barry grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee graduating from Lynn View High School in 1966. His brother, G.C., was his best friend. Barry was very involved at school from student council, letter club, and NHS to baseball and track & field. He was an honors student and worked summers at the Eastman and Holston Defense plants in town.
Barry met Linda Hartley when they were teenagers. On their first date on Nov. 22, 1963, he elbowed Linda in the mouth while putting his arm around her shoulders – the nonchalant, I’m so cool “stretch” tactic. They married six years later and had two daughters, Amy and Lori. In 1992, Barry married Saralyn Greenway and moved to Fayetteville, Georgia. He later adopted her three daughters, Courtney, Candace, and Sarah Elizabeth, and together they had Brantley Ray in 1995. Barry’s children were lights of his life, and he was proud of each one of them. And, then the grandchildren came along -- he loved being Granddaddy to Jake, Sam, Josh, Lottie and Eva Kate.
Barry treasured his parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. He spent many a weekend and holiday at one of their homes, including in Hoot Owl Holler. Family was his world. This love combined with his love of history, led him to gobble up all the lessons and knowledge that he could. He was the family story-teller and memory-keeper. And, he was always ready with a story (or a tall-tale) about his adventures or those of his friends and family.
His daddy instilled in him a deep appreciation for education – one that he was denied because of the War and family obligations. Barry was not permitted to pursue the major league baseball career despite being scouted. This drive and parental pressure took Barry to the University of Tennessee where he earned all degrees including his Ph.D. – he was proud to be “Dr. Barry Burton” or “Dr. B” as his students affectionately called him. He was proud of his work developing plans for the desegregation of some school districts.
Despite his 30-year career with IBM, Barry was a teacher at heart. He taught in Greenville, S.C. before becoming a professor at the University of Nebraska, based in Omaha. After retiring from IBM, he returned to teaching high school math and science classes. For years, he volunteered teaching adult literacy, English as a second language, and GED classes. He always wanted to help people better themselves through education. And, he was a great teacher (except when his daughters asked for help with math homework – he would whip out engineering principles that came so easily to him even though we were just learning long division. We quickly learned not to ask Dad for tutoring).
Sports were a huge part of his life. Barry positively thrived while coaching Brantley’s baseball teams, including coaching him in the championship game at Cooperstown. As an adult, he played golf with Brantley and a multitude of friends, tennis, volleyball, basketball, softball, and was even on a bowling team. He found this poem by Grantland Rice to be poignant when “assessing the worth of his life”:
For when the One Great Scorer comes
To write against your name
He marks – not that you won or lost –
But how you played the game.
Seen breakdancing on a dance floor in Miami and wearing Z-Cavaricci pants in the 90s, Barry was always the life of the party and a renaissance man of all ages. He cared deeply for people and was quick with a hug or a joke. He was a very thoughtful gift-giver and always sent birthday, mother’s day, and Valentines cards – hand-picked and hand-signed. He loved women and was a relentless flirt. He hated his birthday because “bad things” often happened around his birthday – he said the only good thing that happened in January for him was the gift of his daughter Lori. He loved all kinds of music from Rachmaninoff to Skeeter Jones, Marty Robbins, and Carlos Santana and taught himself how to play guitar. He painted with watercolors and oils: women, birds, bears, and landscapes, and he carved and painted wooden ducks. He collected trains, played cowboys and Indians as a boy and with legos with his kids, and loved to watch his kids play tennis, soccer, baseball, and even enjoyed neighborhood swim meets. He could grill a mean steak and loved his mother’s butterscotch pies and eating fresh watermelon (cut into squares) before teaching us how to spit the seeds.
Although he was called to the ocean throughout his life – really anywhere with a palm tree, sand, saltwater, the sound of waves, and fragrant flowers, he was also drawn to the North Carolina mountains near Linville where he spent so much time with the extended Hartley family. And, while Barry lived in many places and traveled the world, East Tennessee and SW Virginia were always home to him. He will be laid to rest with his parents at Powell Valley Memorial Gardens in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Barry’s honor and memory to either the ASPCA (he loved his dogs Duke and Maya) or the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) Charitable Service Trust which supports physical and psychological rehabilitation programs that provide direct service to ill, injured, or wounded veterans.
In Dad’s words, “it is my hope that ‘how I played the game’ was with dignity, civility, grace, and dependability. I hope the Great Scorer will say for me “well played, my son.”
A private graveside service was held with Rev. Brad Stapleton officiating.
Gilliam Funeral Home is serving the Burton Family.