James Henry Barton, Greenville, PA

My Valley Tributes

September 21, 2020

James Henry Barton, Greenville, Pennsylvania - obit
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GREENVILLE, Pennsylvania (MyValleyTributes) – James Henry Barton, 79, of Greenville, Pennsylvania passed away at his home on Monday morning, September 21, 2020 following a courageous battle with cancer.

He was born in Lewisburg, Tennessee on September 2, 1941 to the late James T. and Margaret Brooks Barton.

He received a BS from Tennessee Technological University, a MS from Memphis State University and a PhD from the University of Northern Colorado.

He began his teaching career at UNC in Greeley, Colorado, spending five years as an instructor of geography. He then spent four years as head of the Department of Environmental Science at Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky and 32 years as chair of the Environmental Science program at Thiel College, retiring as a full professor in 2011. He had a passion for higher education and for Thiel College because of its strong emphasis on teaching.

As a geographer, it was important for him to see and experience as many cultures and countries as he could. He visited 55 different countries which included Cuba, Vietnam and several African nations. Two of his sabbaticals were spent in Africa: one in Namibia advising the State University about environmental education and the other in Zimbabwe teaching at Africa University. Dr. Barton had many research interests. One of the last, before retiring from Thiel, was the study of Mercer County, Pennsylvania Old Order Amish communities.

He shared his unique perspective as a geographer with friends, family, students, churches and colleagues. As an amateur photographer he could bring the countries to life. He also wrote short stories and brief vignettes about people and characters he had met in life and in his travels.

Henry was a “car guy” enjoying both antique British sports cars and modern Porsches. He also loved to fly, and successfully earned his pilot’s license in 1976. With a friend, he built a custom RV6 airplane, in which he flew coast to coast in 1999.

Henry served on many boards and agencies throughout his time in Greenville: GAEDC, MERC, the Water Authority, the Airport Commission, Haller Institute at Thiel College, and the Mercer County, PA Habitat for Humanity. He enjoyed many years building houses with both Mercer County Habitat and Thiel College Habitat, where his efforts helped those in need to purchase good quality housing. He was always concerned that the work should be both “square and plumb.”

In 1982, Henry served as Mission Ambassador to the South Pacific, Fiji, Tonga and Western Samoa for the United Methodist Church and held the local, district and conference offices in Western Pennsylvania. He more recently attended St. Clement’s Episcopal Church, where he was a long-time member of the church choir.

Henry is survived by his wife of 55 years, Donna Rogers Barton, whom he married on September 4, 1965 in Knoxville, Tennessee and three children; son, Glenn Brooks Barton, his wife, Kathy and two sons, Peter and Henry of Mentor, Ohio; daughter, Hannah Barton and two daughters, Clara and Noa of Morganton, North Carolina and son, James Thomas Barton, his wife, Theresa and son, Brooks and daughter, Allison of Glendale Heights, Illinois.

In accordance with Henry’s wishes, there will be no public services. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

Memorial contributions can be made to: Thiel College 75 College Avenue, Greenville, PA 16125 or to St Clement’s Episcopal Church, 103 Clinton Street, Greenville, PA 16125 www.stclementsgreenville.org.

Messages of sympathy, stories and photos can be shared at: www.osborne-williams.com.

Arrangements are under the direction of: Osborne-Williams Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Inc., 73-75 Columbia Avenue, Greenville, PA 16125.

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