Elbert and I just celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary. We've known and loved each other most of our lives. When we met he was a tall, lanky lad of 17 years. I was 13. He joined the Navy and for the next 3 years we kept the postal service in business. In Dec of 1950 we were married.
Elbert grew up on a farm in Alabama, the oldest of 10 kids. A lot of responsibility fell on him at an early age. He helped his mother cook and care of the younger ones and he’d be the first to tell you that he’d probably washed more diapers than any woman he knew. He was his Mother’s buddy and he was an excellent son.
I am so proud of what he did with his life and I think he was proud of himself. He’d come from that little farm, worked his way up through the Navy ranks, was commissioned an officer and even was on staff at the Naval Academy. He was proud to serve his country and did so for 22 years. The night before the Battle of Inchon those young boys were scared to death. Elbert prayed that God would see him through and for the rest of that battle and the rest of his life he was never afraid. He also served in Vietnam.
He was the happiest person I have ever known. He just didn’t think that anything was worth being unhappy about. I thought he had the most beautiful smile, but one of my best memories of him was when he would always come in the back door whistling a happy tune.
If you knew Elbert well you’d know that he loved being the center of attention. He was always the life of the party wherever he went. He was always telling jokes and stories. He loved to laugh.
He was ordained as a Primitive Baptist minister in 1974 and co-pastured several churches in Alabama. God seemed to guide him in every step of his life.
He was an avid foxhunter. He was well-respected as an excellent hunter and field judge. I can just hear him now, his hunting horn to his mouth blowing the signal to call his dogs home.
Elbert loved his family beyond measure. Each of them were the light of his life…He was an inspiration to all the grandchildren and wanted the best for them….. So, grandchildren…it’s your turn now to carry on your Pa Pa’s legacy.
He loved me with such a deep, everlasting love. I was a very lucky lady to have known and been loved by Elbert Barton. I always knew when springtime came he’d come in from his walk in the woods carrying a tiny flower in his big hands. To me it was as precious as a dozen roses. I’d stuck it in my thimble and when it died, he’d bring me another. I always knew how much he loved me and as he was drawing his last breaths he would still turn toward me wanting to have a hug.
He truly believed that if you worked hard, treated people right and loved the Lord you could have a good life. And he did live a full life, complete with a lot of laughter and love.
As we gather today, although we will miss his physical presence, let us not just grieve but also celebrate his life as it was fully lived.