July 1, 1944 - April 3, 2018
A celebration of life will be held at a later date for Patricia Joy Barton of Coos Bay. Patty was under hospice care, battling cancer and sepsis, when she died at home April 3, 2018, holding her husband, Jon’s, hand. She was 73.
Patty was born July 1, 1944, in Rochester, N.Y., where she grew up and attended school. During her sophomore year of high school, Patty’s family moved to California, where she finished high school and attended Bakersfield Community College.
Widowed at 28, Patty was left alone to raise her two daughters, and she worked hard to give them a good life. She always loved numbers and working with them, and she was employed as an accountant and bookkeeper for various companies. For many years, she worked as the accounting supervisor for Continental Telephone.
She met the love of her life, Jon Barton, in 1969, and they became family friends. Twenty years later, they were to meet again, and in 1990, they were married. The couple lived in Sturbridge, Mass., before moving to Coos Bay in 1994.
Patty loved living in Coos Bay, where she quickly became involved in a number of community volunteer activities. She was a member of the Coos County Friends of Public Health, serving on the board first as the development chairwoman and then as treasurer. She also was a board member and treasurer for the Zonta Club of the Coos Bay Area. Board members who served with her described her diligence in taking care of the books, keeping them in excellent shape and providing her boards with detailed, understandable reports so members knew their financial standing “down to the penny” at all times.
Appreciated for her grace and compassion, Patty demonstrated those qualities in abundance in her 15 years as a Coos County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). As a CASA volunteer, Patty advocated for the best interest of abused and neglected children in the county’s foster care system, making sure the children had a voice. Friends remember Patty saying that some of the cases tore at her heart, but the work, she said, was too important to kids and she needed to persevere.
Standing only a bit over 5 feet, Patty still was a presence wherever she was. She had an engaging and welcoming personality, sharing her wisdom and strength with so many, and people felt at ease in her presence. Friends appreciated her style and generosity, and remember her as a “counselor and supporter, a strong woman with a big heart who reached out to other women to help them improve their lives.” To the end of her life, she was especially devoted to her fellow Zontians, and marveled many times at the depth of friendships she forged with them.
Patty and Jon traveled, and, in recent years, had wintered in Arizona, but “Patty always was eager to get back to Coos Bay,” Jon said. Whether here or in Arizona, she busied herself with crafts, including cross stitch. She loved doing jigsaw puzzles, and she never missed an opportunity to host a party. Patty had a warm and wry sense of humor and friends remember with fondness her toast in the evening: “If the mountain is pink, it’s time to drink!” Her husband, Jon, said, “I have never found a single solitary person who didn’t love her.”
Patty is survived by her husband, Jon Barton, of Coos Bay; daughters, Sharon Lemke, of Anderson of Calif., and Laura Sperry of Rimrock, Ariz.; stepdaughters, Heather Barton of Port Orford, Tahlia Coleman of Denton of Texas, and Heidi Durant of Dallas, Texas; sisters, Janice Fletcher of Green Valley, Ariz., and Lynda Freitas of Gold Beach; brother, Howard Cunningham of Udon Thani, Thailand; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Providing educational opportunities for young women was Patty’s passion. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in her name to the Zonta Scholarship Committee, P.O. Box 245, North Bend, OR 97459.
Arrangements are under the direction of Nelson’s Bay Area Mortuary, in Coos Bay, 541-267-4216.
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