People come to Utah for a lot of reasons: the snow, the scenery, the people.
Eugene Paul Barton came here to die.He died Aug. 13 at Holy Cross Hospital. The Veterans Administration hopes to find Barton's children - or any other relative - so they can have the American flag and the shell casings from the honor guard funeral during which he was buried in October. There are also pictures of the grave beneath which his cremated remains lie.
"His daughters ought to know their father's dead. And that he never forgot them. He talked about them a lot," said Marie Durney, a Veterans Administration social worker with a project that serves homeless individuals.
Barton came to Salt Lake City from Minneapolis, where he'd been told he had five months to live. He had lived in Utah for four or five years in the early '60s, driving a truck. He loved the place.
Barton arrived in Salt Lake City in late July. He died three weeks later.
"He told me about his daughters," Durney said. "Apparently when he and his wife divorced, he promised not to contact the kids. But he loved them and was proud of them. He told me all about them. Two of his three daughters are married to doctors; I do know that. I don't think he mentioned his son, but the shelter had an address that turned out to be outdated.
"He was a college graduate and said he put the girls through college. I imagine they're probably in their 30s. He told me where they lived, but we were busy at the time and I didn't write it down. No one - including Barton - expected him to go that fast. He was just a very nice man - a real gentleman."
He was born Jan. 10, 1930, in Elmwood, Wis. He had been married at least twice and possibly three times. The names of two ofhis children are known, but the VA has been unable to locate them: Len Allen Barton and Lei Lanie Lei. He also had two stepsons whose names are known, John and Charles Thompson.
He had served four terms in the military under honorable conditions during two different conflicts. He was in the Navy during World War II. He joined the Air Force as a pilot in 1947 and served off and on until 1956.
There are no photographs of Barton available, just descriptions from people who knew him. Barton was a tall and, by the time Durney met him, "quite thin" man. His hair was thinning from chemotherapy but was still more light brown than gray. He wore glasses and his voice was husky and weak from cancer.
Durney said the mortuary where Holy Cross sent Barton's body agreed to keep Barton's ashes beyond the customary 30 days while she made arrangements to have him buried at the veterans cemetery near Bluffdale. He was laid to rest with a military ceremony Oct. 22.
Anyone who might know how to contact his relatives can call Durney at 521-9375 or 531-7802.