Joe R. Burton was taken home by God's angels March 7, 2012, around 5 p.m., in his living room at his farm he loved and worked so hard to attain.
Joe was a strong, self-made man. He had Vascular Dementia the last eight years of his life, but he never let that stop him from going out almost every day. He told me early on in this disease, "Do not let us become isolated. Please let's keep living."
Joe and I have had 25 years of wonderful love and joy of each day shared. Everyone I hope remembers him laughing. He enjoyed life so very totally. We lived each day to the fullest.
Joe always had a purpose and a goal in life, which was given to him by his father and mother, Garland and Isa Button, who lived in Graysville, Ind., where Joe read every book in the Graysville Library.
He read until two days before God took him home.
He was born Dec. 24, 1930, and lived a full 81 years. After high school, he joined the Army, passing Basic Airborne Course at Ft. Benning, Ga., on March 23, 1952.
Joe was fascinated by flying and became a paratrooper because the pay was better, he could feel free in the air flying about. He became a Jumpmaster Dec. 13, 1952, for the 82nd Airborne Division.
Joe's wonderfully strong mother, Isa, taught him early to work hard and how to manage money. If you work hard, you can obtain the dream and keep on living, learning and enjoying the wonderful life God gave us to fully live. Then, to make his car payment of $50 a month, he would play poker just long enough to make the payment, then he'd quit. I'm not quite sure Isa would have approved. Another hard day's work paying bills.
He earned the honor of becoming a Sergeant May 19, 1954. Joe was honorably discharged Sept. 24, 1954. Back to Indiana to become a landowner farmer, which was his heart's dream.
It took creative management of time and money to make this happen, when after going to Indiana State Police School and becoming one of Indiana's finest, the answer to his dreams was offered to him.
In 1960, the opportunity arose to purchase 400 acres, a beautiful large home and a small home with a 20-acre yard in Sandcut, Ind.
Because of Joe's kindness in helping the prior owner, he was able to buy his own farm on contract. He spent 1954-64 as an Indiana State Policeman. The two professions were too individually demanding to do each job justice, so, of course, Joe chose his love, farming. Plus, something I must say, Joe did not like to be told what to do. He had some good years and some lean years farming, but I believe some of his earlier success was because Bobby Turner worked for Joe from the time he was 18 until he was 28, from 1970-80. From Joe's pilot log book, he flew his own plane from May 26, 1954, until March 30, 1976. Learning to fly and owning his own plane were other dreams he made come true for himself.
Our Bobby and his wife Judy are like the children Joe and I never had. I would never have been able to keep Joe home on the farm during his disease without our darling Bobby. I must also give credit to our wonderful Danny Wagner. He has been helping us since 2003 with the yard and anything we need, he could do. We have been blessed by angels all over town helping keep Joe involved in life.
Joe was preceded in death by his father, Garland, who gave Joe his sense of humor. Joe was always laughing and never without a smile; his mother, Isa, had a good sense of humor also.
She was the matriarch of the Burton family. Joe's only son, Joe Scott Burton, passed away tragically in Costa Rica Nov. 19, 2000.
His youngest brother Jay Mike Burton was a real close brother. They worked hard together on the farm, and they were partners in Burton Excavating, sharing all their passions in life until Jay passed away suddenly Jan. 20, 2010. On Dec. 11, 2001, after Joe decided to retire from farming, he had a big auction. People came from five states.
We had around 1,000 people here with the great help from neighbors to shuttle up and down our hill.
God gave us a sunny, lovely, more like fall, day than winter for the sale. The sale was a great success and "My Joe" even had an auction for the highest bidder to cash rent our farm. Joe was always ahead of his time and always had a vision for where his life was going to go.
Joe's other passion was riding his Valkyrie motorcycle. In July 2002, Joe fulfilled another dream: He rode his bike to Alaska by himself. A good day for "My Joe" on his motorcycle was a 500-mile ride. He went on a motorcycle trip every summer. He rode every chance he could get.
Joe is survived by an older brother, Jack Burton, and many nieces and nephews, and great-nieces and nephews, which he loved. There are two special nieces who blessed his life, Jill Burton and Ronni Standley, who's son is suffering from an inoperable brain tumor.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Kaleb Borders Fundraiser, 1027 17th St., Bedford, Ind., 47421, or the Terre Haute Humane Shelter, PO Box 3307, Terre Haute, Ind., 47803.
We are having a celebration of Joe's life at the Sandcut Volunteer Fire Department, 5970 Rio Grande Ave., April 1, 2012, from 2-6 p.m. The Saratoga will put down a spread of wonderful food. Come share a story about our Joe or listen to some of the fun things this wonderful man did. Joe had big dreams to own his own farm, fly his own plane, ride his motorcycle to Alaska, which he did all of the above and he accomplished pretty much anything he sat out to do. I knew him 50 years, was only blessed to spend 25 years of happiness and true love with him on our farm. He was a very honorable man. He was very articulate and well read. He was a very happy, true gentleman.
The world will be a little dimmer without that booming laugh. Goodbye, my darling Joe. Your loving wife, Deena.
Greiner Funeral Home, 2005 N. 13th St., Terre Haute, was entrusted with arrangements. Online condolences may be made at www.greinerfuneralhome.com.