Barton, Billie Lee (April 4, 1930 - April 7, 2004)

Billie Lee Barton

Douglas Budget - April 14, 2004

A celebration of the life of Billie Lee Barton was held April 12 at Upton Elementary School in Upton, with Pastor Troy Heidt and Billie Barton officiating. Burial followed at Greenwood Cemetery in Upton.

Mr. Barton, 74, died April 7, 2004, at his home in Upton.

He was born April 4, 1930, in Newcastle to Verne Francis and Ruth Nelda Mulholland Barton. His youth was spent on the family ranch west and south of Newcastle on South Beaver Creek.

The first three years of his education were acquired at Lone Tree Country School. He then attended school in Newcastle until his parents moved to Upton. He graduated from high school in 1948. He played basketball and football in high school.

On July 14, 1949, Mr. Barton married Mary Lou Norris, and to this union four children were born. Their first home was west of Upton at Thornton.

For the next several years, Mr. Barton intermittently worked for Barton Brothers on the South Beaver Ranch, Upton-Kara Ranch and Rozet Ranch. He also worked as a bentonite truck driver, in oil production for LM York and as a swamper for G. Roy Young Trucking. It was during this time that he learned to enjoy driving trucks, handling heavy equipment and flying airplanes. He and his brother Verne purchased their first used plane in 1951.

Mr. Barton attended University of Colorado at Fort Collins for two years, specializing in agri-business. He and his family returned to Upton after the heart attack of his father, Verne Sr. Giving up his dream of becoming an accountant, he spent the rest of his life on the Barton Ranch.

During the drought of 1960, Barton Brothers purchased a farm-ranch in Wheatland consisting of 1,100 acres of irrigated and 2,600 acres of grass land. Corn and hay were grown for the two ranches in Weston and Crook counties. Mr. Barton and his family re-located to Wheatland. During the winter, 1,200 to 1,500 head of calves were transported to Wheatland and fed.

When Barton Brothers Ranches in Crook and Weston counties split in 1966, the Wheatland ranch was sold and Mr. Barton and his family returned to Weston County and formed Barton's Land and Livestock, Inc. with his parents and brother Verne. Mr. Barton and his family again moved to Thornton.

In the spring of 1969, Mr. Barton was admitted to Hazelden Rehabilitation Center for alcoholism. This was the beginning of his lifelong journey of helping others overcome addictions. never one for show, he quietly worked with men and women at their point of need. Many found a willing hand and open heart.

In 1974, Mr. Barton, his son and son-in-law went into the trucking business. By 1975 they had acquired trucks and trailers to haul cattle, hay, feed, road oil, jet fuel, oil field equipment and gravel. In 1978, Mr. Barton went to Texas and hauled cattle from Florida to California, and Canada to Mississippi.

While in Texas, he took over the management of dispatching 10 trucks all over the U.S. when a friend of his was hurt. He returned to Wyoming in 1979 and continued to operate a small trucking business along with his ranch through 1987.

In 1986, he began his second career of public service and ran for Weston County commissioner. He served in this capacity from January 1987 through December 1994. He served as a chairman and was dedicated in attending the county and state meetings that might have any business which pertained to Weston County. He helped get the baseball field into Upton and worked with Ted Elliott for the Upton-Fairview Road. He was elected president of W.A.C.O. for 1993-94.

In 1993, the citizens of Upton chose him as their "Citizen of the Year." This honor was one he treasured always.

With the encouragement of his wife Carol and his constituents, Mr. Barton ran for state senate in 1994 and was elected. When the re-districting was finished. Mr. Barton represented Weston, Crook and Niobrara and portions of Goshen and Converse counties. He felt strongly about representing all his areas equally and spent many hours traveling to meetings and gatherings throughout the five-county area. When he ran for a second term in District #1, he was elected by one of the largest voter turnouts throughout the state. He was elected to his third term in 2002 but was forced to retire in October 2003.

During his tenure, Mr. Barton was appointed to the Agriculture, Public Lands and Water Resources Committee, the Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee, and was chairman of the Transportation and Highways committee.

Mr. Barton was recognized for his exemplary service by the Wyoming Public Transit Association in 1999. He was the chairman of the Multi-State Highway Transportation Agreement in 2002-03. One of his greatest accomplishments was getting funding for the senior citizens' vans across the state. He was also proud to have played the role in obtaining new schools for Weston County.

He was appointed to fill an unexpired term as a board member of the Upton Co-op in 1966. He remained active on his board until 1988. He was a charter member of the National Cattlemen's Association in 1977 and Wyoming Stock Grower's Association, joining in 1945. He was an active member in the Weston County Republican Party as well as the Wyoming Republican Party.

In January 2004, the Weston County Republican Party presented Mr. Barton with a certificate of appreciation, which reads "For the time spent traveling the Wyoming highways, and in the halls of the Wyoming Senate, for hours spent reading bills and updates, for the constantly watching over the well-being of Weston County and all her resident, for fulfilling all the duties required of the office of senator. And his partner, Carol, for serving the Wyoming Republican Party, and for serving the Weston County Republican Party so well and faithfully - thank you for your service."

Throughout his life, Mr. Barton met each challenge with determination and dedication. His battle with cancer was no exception. On April 7, his valiant battle with cancer was finished.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Mary Lou, in 1991; son Douglas Lee in 1998; and second wife, Carol Vickers-Barton, on Dec. 27, 2003.

Mr. Barton is survived by his brother Verne Barton of Newcastle; daughters Virginia Jespersen and Donna and husband Kelvin Kennedy and son Billie V. and wife Karen Barton, all of Upton; stepdaughters Gale and husband Leonard Geringer of Cheyenne and Connie and husband Gary Anderson of Woodland Park, Colo.,; stepson Wayne and wife Eileen Vickers of Newcastle; 22 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

Fidler-Roberts & Isburg Funeral Chapel in Sundance was in charge of arrangements.


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