James Cecil Barton had a charming friendly personality and was well-loved.
“You met him once and you remembered him,” daughter Jamie Skripac said. “He really stood out from the crowd.”
Always dressed in Western wear, for many years Barton was a bandleader for Jim Barton and the Sounds of Country.
“I was very proud of him, that he was a musician who taught himself to play the acoustic guitar and the fiddle,” Skripac said.
In 1937, at age 7, Barton moved from North Carolina, where his family had no electricity, to Chicago where he saw his first streetcar and electric lights.
“Everything was new and exciting for him,” Skripac said.
Barton was the eldest of his siblings.
“They really looked up to him as a leader,” Skripac said. “My uncle, his middle brother, said he was really a good athlete, so good he could have gone professional both in baseball and football.”
Barton quit playing sports to help take care of his family.
“He could have been successful at anything,” Skripac said. “He remained focused on being a father, a family man and a musician.”
Barton, 83, of Riceville, Tenn., and formerly of Calumet City, retired as a foreman from Cargill after 41 years loading and unloading ships, trucks and trains.
Skripac has many fond memories of family vacations and listening to her father strum his guitar and sing.
“He instilled in me the importance of family and being responsible,” she said.
When Barton married his late wife Sandra, they combined families and he raised her three children as his own with Skripac born to them later in life.
Barton loved traveling, especially to Florida beaches and Las Vegas, and fishing and hunting duck and pheasant in his younger years.
Skripac enjoyed her daily phone calls with her father.
“He was a great person to go to when someone needed advice,” Skripac said. “I will miss that.”