“The measure of a man is in the lives he’s touched.” — Ernie Banks
Donald Daniel Barton, II stood 6’7” tall and yet to all whom he met he often seemed larger than life. For him, honor, respect, loyalty, friendship and love meant everything. He loved with his whole heart. The family, friends, brothers and animals that were dearest to Donny created all the wealth that he needed. He had the rare ability to see not only with his eyes but also with his heart and often formed meaningful relationships with strangers whose beautiful hearts he was able to see. Many of the “strangers” became life long friends and part of his family.
Don was affectionately known as Donny, Daddy, Big “D”, Superman, and Uncle Donny. His grandfather, Joe Gimbrone, began Don’s boxing training at the age of 3, and affectionately gave Don the nickname Rocky. This was well before the movie by the same name ever existed but the training Donny received was just a rigorous as the movie portrayed. Donny was never defeated in the ring and always gave his opponents the first courtesy punch before he knocked them out, often in the first round — much to the dismay of his grandfather.
Don went on to become a proficient martial artist and had the honor of training in art of Kung Fu under the great Master Ting Fong Wong and Master Wan Do Lee. He was nicknamed “Dog” for his tenacity and loyalty. Donny became a 4th degree black belt, competed and mastered many other styles. He had lightening fast hands and a rare source of internal power that often surprised his opponents. He had incredible strength and was called Superman for his ability to punch through a punching bag. Over the years Don became a Kyokushin fighter trained by his Soke Richard Sanderson under the style’s founder Masutatsu Oyama. The training in martial arts provided Donny not only with life long self defense and physical fitness skills but most importantly with the mental development, discipline and quiet inner strength he embodied. Throughout his life Donny continued to practice his favorite Katas and enjoyed being connected with other friends who practiced the Arts.
Donny once described himself as a bit of an outlaw, and a little bit of an angel, he didn’t want to be followed but instead encouraged others to forge their own paths. He had a unique sense of style and did everything in a big way. He was a self-made, self-educated entrepreneur and treasure hunter who specialized in the field of art, antiques, and jewelry. He loved collecting, trading and possessed incredible knowledge that he happily shared with other collectors and customers at his Very Cherry Art & Antique store. Customers often said they felt drawn to come into his store and were surprised not only by the incredible treasures inside but by the man Donny was. He had fascinating stories about his life’s adventures and he loved to share the gift of wisdom in hopes of bettering the lives of the people he met.
Donny had a unique healing ability and was a gifted certified advanced reflexologist. He shared the wisdom and teachings he learned from his Shanti. Donny deeply loved Shanti Parakh, not only for Shanti’s gift of healing that saved his life but also for the their meaningful conversations, the friendship and the bond that they shared. Each time Don would work on someone it was his way of honoring the great man who made a profound difference in his life.
Donny’s had a hand tattoo of Chinese characters that meant Sleeping Angel. To those who knew him he was truly a borrowed Angel for he came into this world to help both animals and people as well as to help us all to see the world through different eyes. Don had a rare ability to see other people’s unique gifts and to help them envision a future that they could not see for themselves. He loved animals deeply and rescued countless animals over the years. He raised 3 baby squirrels, Steel, Clark and Jimmy, all of whom he bottle fed and cared for dearly. He shared his tender heart, loving care and resources with his beloved dogs, cats, birds, deer and other wildlife. They gave back to him the unconditional love and peacefulness he so deserved. His greatest wish was to start a foundation to benefit animals in need, A wish that Lisa, his friends and family are going to work to bring into being as a way of honoring Donny Barton’s life.
Don was deeply grateful to everyone who supported him on his journey over the last 17 months, and especially to Lee Whitley for sharing his knowledge, generosity and immeasurable kindness. Although the path was at times difficult for Donny, it brought forth the best in everyone who loved him. Unfortunately due to an unexpected events due to medication, Don left this world to soon due to renal failure on August 24th, 2023. He wished to be cremated and asked that family and friends lovingly remember him as he was in life when he was smiling, strong and full of energy.
Donny was preceded in death by his grandfather, Joseph, his beloved Nonni, Marie C. Gimbrone, and his dear son Hunter. He leaves behind his wife Lisa with whom he shared a deep love, mutual respect, laughter, tears, and an enduring friendship. Don is survived by his parents Marie and Angelo Montante, the late Donald Barton, Sr., Lynn Montante (Mark), sister, Lee Litterio, sister, Sandra Herrmann, sister, children: Donald “Rocky” Barton (Kelly), Storm Barton, David Angelo Moretto, Salvatore Mark Moretto (Annalise), Brandie Carey and his grandchildren.
Donny leaves behind a legacy of deep love for the family he grew from the hearts of those that made the time to truly know him. His friendships meant the world to him, he cherished all of you including Lou, Pauli, Larry, and Marco, — true friends and stronger than brothers. He held a special place in his heart and was deeply grateful for the loving friendships with Kim, Bob, Margie, Shanti, Sarah, Randie, John, Maria, Tom, Lily, Michael, Matt, Rashid, Franki, Boris, Akira, JT, Frank, Jimmy, Daniel, Brianne, George, Don, Franny and so many others who held him dearly in their hearts. He cherished the moments of togetherness, the music, the laughter and the stories he shared with you. His friends gave him wings and filled his heart with joy.
Although with all the pain he endured these last few years, it seemed his greatest pain was knowing he had to leave such good friends behind. Donny had a very strong faith and went home to rest pain-free and in peace. He firmly believed that when you live in the hearts of those you love, you are forever a part of this world, connected by love to the other side where peace, beauty and love reign forever.
The 13th Warrior was one of Donny’s favorite movies. He felt strongly connected to the main character’s sense of honor and the powerful message in the Viking prayer:
Lo, there do I see my father
Lo, there do I see my mother
and my sisters and my brothers
Lo, there do I see the line of my people
back to the beginning
Lo, they do call to me
They bid me take my place among them
in the halls of Valhalla
where the brave may live forever
Angels are heaven sent but they can’t stay here forever, heaven needs them back again to watch over us. Donny will be shining his smile brightly from the heavens, may all those who know him in their hearts continue to share the laughter, the joy and the love he wanted us all to know.
We ask that any memorial contributions be made to Animal Advocates, Soi Dog Foundation, Alley Cat Allies or the animal rescue of your choice.