|Birth: ||May 9, 1928|
|Death: ||Sep. 5, 2010|
Virginia Barton,Age 82
Fought racism with a soft voice and gentle smile
When a group of Gordon College students wanted to study the history of Lynn's minority population, they had the privilege of learning from someone who not only knew it, but lived it.
Sometimes as many as 20 of those students would gather in Virginia Barton's living room, sitting on the floor and literally learning at her feet. They listened to her stories and asked her questions. And they invariably left with significantly more knowledge than when they arrived.
Gordon acknowledged her invaluable contributions to the college in 2006 when it dedicated Barton Hall, a new residence hall in downtown Lynn for students participating in the Gordon in Lynn program. It was the latest in a series of honors bestowed on Mrs. Barton, recognizing a lifetime of dignified advocacy.
"Everything she did, she did in a gentle way," said her son, Gordon "Buzzy" Barton. "She was always able to get her points across without being demeaning or belligerent."
Mrs. Barton died at home Sunday after a lengthy illness. She was 82.
A lifelong resident of Lynn, Virginia (Smith) Barton was born May 9, 1928. She attended Connery Elementary, Cobbet Junior High and Classical High, graduating in 1946. She took courses at Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, Salem State and UMass Boston.
Mrs. Barton worked from 1965-73 as a neighborhood and education coordinator for Lynn Economic Opportunity. She then spent more than 20 years as a Title I parent coordinator with Lynn Public Schools, retiring in 1995.
Throughout her life, Mrs. Barton worked tirelessly to combat racial and social injustice. She was a co-founder, president, treasurer and co-executive director of the Community Minority Cultural Center. She also served as president of the North Shore branch of the NAACP, co-chair of Citizens Against Racism and a board member of the Greater Lynn Racial Harmony Committee.
Mrs. Barton had experienced racism first-hand. In 1963 when a fire devastated her home, forcing the family to split up, she had difficulty finding new housing. In another instance, she had an art scholarship rescinded when those awarding it learned she was African-American.
Yet through the obstacles faced by her and those for whom she advocated, Mrs. Barton persevered, always with a smile.
She was once described in a Daily Item story as "A woman who has done more in the battle against racism and injustice than anyone in the city and has 'fought' with the most unlikely weapons – a gentle smile and soft voice."
"She felt it was OK to disagree, but you don't have to be disagreeable," said her daughter, Patricia Barton. "She was very inclusive. She cared deeply about socioeconomic issues that affect all people."
Mrs. Barton earned a host of accolades, including: the Jim Mountain Award from the Mass. Department of Education; the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Florence Luscomb Women's Center at Salem State; the Clara Barton Humanitarian Award from the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay; the Distinguished Service Award from the Yankee Clipper Council of the Boy Scouts of America; and the Sallie Hacker Award from the Lynn Museum & Historical Society.
In addition to her son, Buzzy, and daughter, Patricia, Mrs. Barton is survived by her daughters, Barbara Barton, Roberta "Birdie" Davis, Donna Barton, Paulette Hartwell and Carol Brown, all of Lynn; six grandchildren, Pamela Wilkins, Michael Wilkins, Brooke Davis, Antoinette (Mia) Hartwell, James Smith and Oren Wright; eight great grandchildren; two sisters, Dorothy Taylor and Barbara Smith; and many nieces, nephews, grand nieces and grand nephews.
She was the wife of the late Gordon "Bumps" Barton, the mother of the late Lori Wilkins Holliday and the sister of the late Marion Bradley and Warren Smith.
Pine Grove Cemetery
Created by: AngelWings
Record added: Sep 09, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 58433542