What is the Be Like Joe Memorial Fund?

The Be Like Joe Memorial Fund was established in August, 2008 by Tom and Sara Barton in memory of their younger brother Joe who lost his life in an automobile accident earlier that month at age twenty. While attending Saline High School, Joe was a member of the cross-country and track teams; earning his varsity letter in both. The Fund is intended to provide financial assistance for college expenses to a senior class member of the Saline High School men's cross country and track teams. The recipient will be one who best exemplifies Joe's dedication to academics, his character, competitive spirit, and reflects Joe's heartfelt concern for family and friends.

Be Like Joe

In his hometown of Saline, Michigan, Joe Barton was the son, student and friend everyone wanted to be: an A student who downplayed his achievement; the role model who led by example; the fierce competitor who inspired teammates; and the loyal friend who always put others above self. Joe went on to study chemistry at Michigan State University, where he continued to impress teachers, teammates and friends with his drive, compassion and joyful personality.

On August 20, 2008, Joe died in a car accident. Even then, Joe found a way to give: He was an organ and tissue donor, providing hope and new life to dozens of people in need.

Today, Joe Barton lives on through a memorial fund designed to encourage the values he lived by: academic achievement, strength of character, competitive spirit and concern for others. Each year, The Saline Men's Cross Country program will recognize students who embrace those values through the Be Like Joe Scholarship – a tribute to a short life full of meaning, and young man with an unforgettable smile.

view more photosread more memories about Joe

Please Post Your Memories loading...

Help us to remember Joe and the gifts he gave us.
Please post your memories and thoughts here as a tribute to Joe and his amazing life.


Oh Joey!  I knew better then to let the two of you go anywhere alone and not just because I am a worrier.  I had visions of the scene from On Golden Pond where the young boy drives the boat and he and Henry Fonda get in the boating accident.  How was I ever going to explain this one to your mom and grandma?  Sure enough, as soon as I looked up there you were headed right towards me (on shore!)- then all of a sudden you were gunning  for Al's dock next door.  I was having major heart palpitations and screaming as loud as I could ( as if you didn't know you were headed towards the dock).  I hunkered down and crept inside unable to watch anymore.  When I came to from the safety of the living room I watched as  you two headed out towards the middle of the lake.  Neither of you said a thing about it when you came back in!  You were wise to stay out as long as you did to let me cool down!
I love your enthusiasm, determination and grin.  And you liked my cooking which puts you in a category by yourself ( for enjoying it and surviving it!).  What fun we had watching movies and having you stay in the Grannie house next to us.   You loved having your own bachelor pad as long as Emily stayed with you.  Getting to know you was the best part.
All my love,
- Aunt Aimee'
I unfortunately never got the opportunity to get to know Joe, but i've been lucky to become very close with some of his very best friends. I honestly hear the amazing stories and memories of the wonderful person, and best friend he was on a daily basis. My heart goes out to family and friends.
- Caitlin Breakey
Hey Joe, thanks for making Tom and I feel like our old-man advice mattered. I've never seen a kid who could have himself put together so well, yet never stop smiling and listening as we so matter-of-factly told you how we saw the world. The truth is, you had it all figured out way more than we ever did, and we knew it and loved you for it. I'll take your memories and life with me always.
- Ryan Weaver
The Be Like Joe Memorial Fund is a recognized 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization

Contact us