Burnt Hills For 12 years, Richard Barton was a favorite teacher among his students and peers at Burnt Hills Ballston Lake’s Richard H. O’Rourke Middle School, where he taught technology education.
Now, colleagues and family are remembering Barton’s unwavering positivity and spirit after the technology education teacher lost his four-year battle with colorectal cancer on Monday, July 16, at his Guilderland home. He was 62.
“He was the most positive person you would ever come across. His mantra was ‘life is good,’” said Colleen Kane, the middle school’s principal. “He always made you smile … and always left you feeling uplifted. … He was a great man and meant a lot to a lot of people here. He will certainly be missed.”
Barton’s wife, Christine, remembered her husband as an “it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood guy,” something that did not change after he his diagnosis.
“His hallmark was his positiveness and it wasn’t something that he just decided to don when he heard his diagnosis. That was Richard from the beginning,” she said. “He would tell anybody that those four years were the richest four years of his life. It deepened our family’s relationship.”
Throughout his illness, Barton maintained an online journal at caringbridge.org, which is a site that helps those battling serious illnesses stay connected with loved ones. Christine said that it was Barton’s sister, Nancy, who encouraged him start writing on the site.
“All of the prayers and encouraging words that came across the CaringBridge kept him going and was just really a lifeline for him,” said Christine.
Barton wrote over 300 entries since September 2008, which were visited nearly 40,000 times.
One of Barton’s journal entries from June 13 spoke of a hospital stay.
“So I am going home but with no real answers. It's an unsettling feeling but at least after today I will have those feelings at home and I LOVE being at home. What a response!!!” he wrote.