In Memory of




Obituary for Clarence Young Barton

Clarence Young Barton, 93, died January 12, 2023. He lived at Miralea in Louisville, KY, for the
last ten years. Clarence was born on February 28, 1929 in Reidville, SC to Jerry Easley Barton
and Ziza Bruce Barton Martin. He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Mary DeVilbiss Barton; his
four children, Melanie Ahr (Steve), Judy Sellars (Terry), Lisa Jensen (Mark), and Bruce Barton
(Renee); four grandchildren Anna Jensen (Matt Naylor), Mollie Jensen Crockett (Martin), John
Barton, Natalie Barton; and two step-greatgrandchildren Brayden and Mila Angel.
Dad was the last surviving of his generation in his family. He was predeceased by his brothers
and sisters-in-law Bruce Easley Barton (Carolyn) and Henry Edmond Barton (Sarah) and his
grandson, David Ransom Barton. He is survived by beloved nieces and nephews. By any
measure, he lived a long, full, and impactful life.
Dad was a man of boundless kindness, deep intellect, and a wonderful sense of humor. He was
deeply loved and respected by the countless students he mentored and nurtured as chaplain at
Central State Hospital in Anchorage, Ky and as adjunct professor of Pastoral Care at Southern
Baptist Theological Seminary. Numerous former students throughout the nation are carrying on
the work that he loved as chaplain due to his profound influence on their lives. Clarence
respected all people. He served the residents of Central State, many with profound mental
health issues, by listening to their stories, learning from their experiences, and coming away
from these encounters with profound respect for their struggles and ability to survive and
endure. He deferred all accolades and compliments, always walking through life with great
humility. He would, in fact, hate this obituary because it is about him; he never wanted that
type of attention. Others’ needs always came before his own, and he was a master of acts that
brought joy to others without bringing attention to himself, like gifts of art and fresh flowers.
In all things, Dad saw beauty, and he created beauty all of his life. He saw beauty in the people
he knew; beauty in gardening and arranging of flowers; beauty in people’s faces and stories;
beauty in feeding and viewing birds. He was an artist his entire life, and he practiced this
avocation seriously after retirement. His granddaughter commented that she only knew him as
an artist, as her whole life this had been one of his primary pastimes. He worked in many
mediums, from sculpture to watercolors to oil paintings, and most family members, and many
friends, will have permanent reminders of him in pieces of his art displayed around their
homes. He was an avid gardener, and knew the effect that fresh flowers had on those who
didn’t have the opportunity to grow them. He loved that nature gave him ideas of future
Dad loved music. When he and Mom were first married they had no money, living in seminary
student housing with furniture they borrowed from the basement of the building. Nevertheless,
one of their first purchases was a phonograph, causing his mother to question their sanity.
Walking into their apartment at Miralea was like walking into a symphony and an art museum;
music was playing loudly, and the walls and surfaces covered with collected and created art by
Dad, children, and grandchildren.

Dad loved to travel with Mom for the experiences, the different cultures, the art, and the
people they met and with whom they developed relationships. They traveled to nations as far
away as the Czech Republic, Greece, and China, and more local wonders as near as Cumberland
Falls State Park, Chautauqua, and Yosemite. Whenever they traveled, Dad carried a sketchpad
to capture what he saw and experienced and the faces of those surrounding him.
Dad loved to read. He kept a “daybook” of quotes that were meaningful to him. If you ever
received a Christmas letter from him, you knew of his ability to glean relevant quotes and
weave them into the narrative of his letter. In his last Christmas letter he quoted from Mary
Oliver’s The Kingfisher, “I think this is the prettiest world- so long as you don’t mind a little
dying.” He always saw things clearly, and he was a powerful writer from an early age. His
brother kept a letter he had written and sent as a 15-year-old informing him of their father’s
death, which was poetic and compassionate. He was a wonderful storyteller and keeper of
family stories and history, and his children and grandchildren loved to listen to him recount
what he knew of his family’s stories.
Dad loved his family deeply, no one more than Mom. Dad’s tenderness with and care of Mom
was evident. They almost always held hands when walking. As Dad was dying, Mom lay beside
him in the hospital bed holding his hand. He loved visiting his daughter and son-in-law’s farm
where he admired their gardens and took long walks. These visits were inspiration for many of
his paintings. He commented often that he had survived this long due to the care of his
daughter Melanie. He cherished time with grandchildren, reminiscing recently about how his
granddaughters, Anna and Mollie, when young, used to create and perform songs and
programs that he enjoyed. Many pictures depict Papaw with a grandchild or two in his studio
drawing and painting. His whole life, he was a support to and a steady influence on his children,
grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. We will remember him for his love, his service,
his many talents, his humor, and his graceful modelling of a full and fulfilling life.
A gathering of remembrance and gratitude for his life will be held Monday, January 16 at 2:00
in the Paddock Room at Miralea at Masonic Home. Arrangements are being made by Highland
Funeral Home.