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.

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Dear Joey,
Thanks for going  fishing with me during those long afternoons on Big Floyd Lake in Minnesota. You were about 13 and up to lots of golf and any adventure I could think up. I especially enjoyed the time I suggested you drive the boat as we headed out for Walleye and Sunnies.  You looked at the massive 12 footer with an elderly 9.5 Johnson outboard with just a tad of trepidation - you had never driven a boat before.  Your Aunt Aimee' was there on our lawn as we headed out to boat . "Are you sure you should let Joey drive?" she said.  Without flinching you jumped into the drivers seat.  I explained that all you had to do was pull the rope on the motor, turn the handle for throttle, and push the tiller the opposite way you wanted the boat to go.  You gave me a knowing nod.  You got the motor running, I untied us from our dock and off we went!  You immediately turned the throttle to full blast, your eyes becoming very big as we headed straight towards the shore.  I yelled turn and you did a quick 90 degrees  right towards the neighbor's dock, the massive motor pushed us faster and faster.  Your eyes got bigger and bigger.  Aimee' was screaming and I was laughing so hard I couldn't speak.  We banged into the neighbors dock and off we went out back out into the lake.  Eventually you regained your composure and we practiced a few turns and even went out and caught a few fish.  It's a fun memory I will always treasure and hopefully Aimee' will someday forgive me for the scare we gave her. 
You're the best!
- Uncle Dan
When Joey was about 10 years old he was bright beyond his years, was relentlessly inquisitive and had unbounded energy. He ran around on feet already bigger than mine and was always flashing his big, toothy grin. I called him PITA (pronounced: pee-ta; just like the bread), it stood for "pain in the ass". I think he took it as a compliment and a challenge. One time in particular I told him to settle down or I would put him in the trunk of my car, which I ended up doing for about a minute. I let him out and he was sputtering /blubbering mad saying he hated me and would never talk to me again. This was not what I had intended. But much to my relief ten minutes later Joey had forgiven me and we were pals again. Of course PITA quickly disappeared as Joey grew into all that Joe was. All of us who knew Joe have suffered a great personal loss, but even those people who never knew him suffered a loss as well for the world is a lesser place without him. I will never forget him and will miss him always.
- Uncle David

"Joey. You are something else!! Your brother and sister wouldn't trade you in for anyone! Mom and Dad would fight forever You have the best "last words in any exchange-- Dad, I, Sara and Tommy cannot come to words that express what a wonderful part of our family you are--we would not be complete without you. Stay as spirited, loving and caring to everyone you know now and will meet in you exciting years to come. Love, Mom, Dad, Sara and Tommy"


This letter was written to Joe in April, 2002, as part of an assignment for his English class, his autobiographgy. It holds true to this day. Forever with us. I love you too, Joey, Mom

- Kathy
The Be Like Joe Memorial Fund is a recognized 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization

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