Obituary Details

Billie "Senator Bill" Lee Barton

(04/30/1930 - 04/07/2004)
Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 04/14/2004

Bill Barton former Senator dies at age 74

Billie Lee Barton, 74, Upton, died on April 7, 2004, at his home in Upton. A Celebration of the life of Billie Lee Barton, was held April 12, in the Boal Auditorium at the Upton Elementary School in Upton, with Pastor Troy Heidt and Billie Barton officiating. Burial followed at Greenwood Cemetery, Upton.

Billie Lee Barton was born in Newcastle, on April 4, 1930, to Verne Francis and Ruth Nelda Mulholland Barton. His youth was spent on the family ranch, which was located west and south of Newcastle on South Beaver Creek. The first three years of his education was acquired at the Lone Tree Country School. After that he attended school in Newcastle until his parents moved to Upton. Bill graduated from high school in 1948. On July 14, 1949, Bill married Mary Lou Norris and to this union four children were born. Their first home was west of Upton at Thornton, Wyoming.

For the next several years Bill intermittently worked for Barton Brothers on the South Beaver Ranch, Upton-Kara Ranch and Rozet Ranch. Bill also worked as a bentonite truck driver, in oil production for LM York and as a swamper for G. Roy Young Trucking. It was during this time that Bill learned to enjoy driving trucks, handling heavy equipment and flying airplanes. Bill and his brother, Verne, purchased their first used plane in 1951.

Bill attended the University of Colorado at Fort Collins for two years, specializing in Agri-business. He and his family returned to Upton after the heat attack of his father, Verne, Sr. Giving up his dream of becoming an accountant, Bill spent the rest of his life on the Barton Ranch. During the drought of 1960, Barton Brothers purchased a farm-ranch in Wheatland, Wyoming, consisting of 1100 acres of irrigated and 2600 acres of grassland. Corn and hay were grown for the two ranches in Weston and Crook Counties. Bill, Mary and children relocated to Wheatland.

During the winter 1200 to 1500 head of calves were transported to Wheatland and fed. When Barton Brothers Ranches in Crook and Weston Counties split in 1966, the Wheatland ranch was sold and Bill and his family returned to Weston County and formed Barton's Land and Livestock, Inc. with his parents and brother, Verne. Bill and Mary again moved to Thornton, Wyoming.

In the spring of 1969, Bill was admitted to Hazelden Rehabilitation Center for alcoholism. This was the beginning of his lifelong journey of helping others overcome addictions. Never one for show he quietly worked with men and women at their point of need. Many found a willing hand and open heart.

In 1974 Bill, his son, and son-in-law went into the trucking business. By 1975, they had acquired trucks and trailers to haul cattle, hay, feed, road oil, jet fuel, oil field equipment, and gravel. In 1978, Bill went to Texas and hauled cattle from Florida to California, and Canada to Mississippi. While in Texas, Bill took over the management of dispatching ten trucks all over the United States when a friend of his was hurt. He returned in 1979 and continued to operate a small trucking business along with his ranch, until the end of 1987.

In 1986 Bill began his second career of public service, and ran for Weston County Commissioner. He served in that capacity from January 1987 through December 1994. He served as Chairman and was dedicated in attending the county and state meetings that might have any business which pertained to Weston County. Bill helped get the baseball field into Upton, and worked with Ted Elliott for the Upton-Fairview Road. He was elected president of W. A. C. O., 1993-94. In 1993 the citizens of Upton chose Bill as their "Citizen of the Year." This honor was one he treasured always.

With the encouragement of his wife, Carol, and his constituents, Bill ran for State Senate in 1994, and was elected. When the redistricting was finished, Bill represented Weston, Crook, Niobrara Counties, and portions of Goshen and Converse Counties. He felt strongly about representing all his area equally and spent many hours traveling to meetings and gatherings throughout the five county area. When Bill ran for his second term and State Senator for District # 1 he was elected by one of the largest vote turnouts throughout the state. He was elected to his third term in 2002, and was forced to retire in October 2003.

During his tenure serving District #1 and the State of Wyoming, Bill was appointed to the Agriculture, Public Lands and Water Resources Committee, the Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee, and was Chairman of the Transportation and Highways Committee until his health forced him to retire in 2003.

Bill was recognized for his exemplary service by the Wyoming Public Transit Association in 1999. He was the Chairman of the Multi-State Highway Transportation Agreement in 2002-03. One of his greatest accomplishments was getting funding for the Senior Citizen's Vans across the state.

Bill was also very proud to have played a role in obtaining the new schools for Weston County. Bill was appointed to fill an unexpired term as a Board member of the Upton Coop in 1966 He remained active on this board until 1988. He was a charter member of the National Cattlemen's Association founded in1977, and Wyoming Stockgrowers Association, joining in 1945. Bill was an active member in the Weston County Republican Party as well as the State Republican Party.

In January 2004, the Weston County Republican Party presented Bill with a certificate of appreciation which reads: "For the time spent traveling the Wyoming highways, and in the halls of the Wyoming Senate, for hours spent reading bills and updates, for constantly watching over the well being of Weston County and all her residents, for fulfilling all the duties required of the office of senator. And his partner, Carol, for serving the Wyoming Republican Party and for serving the Weston County Republican Party so well and faithfully-thank you for your service."

Throughout his life Bill met each challenge with determination and dedication. His battle with cancer was no exception. On April 7, 2004, Bill's valiant battle with cancer was finished. Bill was preceded in death by his first wife, Mary Lou in 1991; son, Douglas Lee in 1998, and second wife, Carol Vickers-Barton, who passed away December 27, 2003. Bill is survived by his brother, Verne Barton of Newcastle; daughters, Virginia Jespersen and Donna (Kelvin) Kennedy; son, Billie V. (Karen) Barton all of Upton; step-daughters, Gale (Leonard) Geringer of Cheyenne and Connie (Gary) Anderson of Woodland Park, Colo. and step-son, Wayne (Eileen) Vickers of Newcastle, twenty two grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren.

Arrangements have been placed in the care of Fidler-Roberts & Isburg Chapel in Sundance.

Images & Attachments

Bill Barton
Photo courtesy of Michael David,

Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Anderson, Gary (06/13/1944 - 10/28/1987) View Record
Obituary Barton, Ruby (06/05/1935 - 12/27/2003) View Record