William “Bill” Johnston Burton, 99, of Signal Mountain, died peacefully at his home on August 29, 2019.
He was born on Oct. 4, 1919, at his grandparents' home on the family farm near Summerville, Georgia, and was raised in Chattanooga. He was the son of the late Ann Johnston Burton and William Barnett Burton.
He attended Missionary Ridge Elementary School, Northside Junior High School and graduated from Chattanooga “City” High School in 1937. He was very involved at City High School and enjoyed being a student under longtime beloved Principal Creed Bates.
He attended Georgia Tech University and University of Chattanooga before receiving an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in 1939. Because of the U.S. entry into World War II, his class was placed in an accelerated wartime curriculum graduating in June 1942. The day after graduation, he left for San Francisco to board the battleship, USS Maryland, based in Pearl Harbor. Being a part of the Pacific Fleet, they participated at the Battle of Midway, patrolled the Fiji Islands and suffered torpedo damage in the Battle of Saipan. During the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which was the largest naval battle during World War II, the battleship was hit by a kamikaze and suffered casualties and damages.
On Aug. 27, 1955, Bill married his wife of 64 years, Betty Travis Hickman of Hattiesburg, Ms. He owned and operated Burton Radiator Company for many years which was started by his father, and he retired in 1990. Bill enjoyed playing tennis, golf and bridge until late in life and was still winning at bridge at 96 years old.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Ellen Burton Yates, who died in January 2019.
He is survived by his wife, Betty H. Burton, two daughters, Ann (Dave) Evans, of Signal Mountain; and Betsy Burton (Mike Whipp), of Lyons, Co.; step- grandchildren, Betsey Evans (Tom) Kates, Bobby Evans, Erin Whipp (Casey Holum) and Marc Whipp (Erin Buena); great granddaughters, Helen Kates and Eleanor Kates; nieces, Susan (Don) Jensen, Happy Baker (Joe Martin), and nephew, Ned Yates; great-nieces and nephews, Yates McKenzie, Burton McKenzie, Spencer Spetnagel, Will Baker, Ashley Yates Martinez, Emily Yates Nelligan and Edward Yates.
A memorial service honoring Bill will be on Monday, Sept. 23, at 1 p.m. in Marr Chapel at Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church with The Reverend Dr. Scott Bowen and The Reverend Margaret Ferguson officiating. The family will receive visitors following the service.
At his request, his body has been donated to Vanderbilt University Medical Center Anatomical Donation Program in Nashville for medical research.
The family would like to thank his caregiver, Cindy Baggett, for her care and friendship and to the nurses at Avalon Hospice.
In lieu of flowers, charitable donations may be made to Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church, 612 James Boulevard, Signal Mountain, Tn. 37377 or to The Humane Educational Society of Chattanooga, 212 N. Highland Park Ave., Chattanooga, Tn. 37404.