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Margaret Clyde Barton Williford died on Saturday, August 22nd at her home in Bartlesville surrounded by her family with her loving husband holding her hand.
The first born of twins, Margaret came into the world on May 24th, 1933 to Clyde and Jenetta Barton in the town of Kermit, Texas where she and her two sisters grew up. The Barton girls were brought up pursuing and achieving a wide variety of interests though Margaret always gravitated towards friendships and desserts…though not necessarily in that order. She had a vibrant, joyous smile which beamed when she was with people but also if she was enjoying a piece of chocolate cake.
Aside from her culinary appetites, Margaret loved music and began to sing in church and school productions. However, it was when her high school band teacher, Mr. Gilligan, chose her to play the oboe (which she had never done) that she really began to excel. Margaret rose to the level of accomplished musician, playing 1st chair in the orchestra and with world renowned musicians for four summers at the Transylvania Music Festival in Brevard, North Carolina.
Though she could have chosen a career as a professional musician, Margaret also had a talent for business and graduated high school as Valedictorian. In the fall of 1951, the Barton girls descended upon the University of Texas where, once again, Margaret would climb the ranks of her class with hard work, talent, and dogged determination. She graduated Suma Cum Laude with a degree in Business Administration in 1955 and landed a job as an executive assistant for the Humble Oil Company, now known as Exxon.
However, Margaret’s love for people and her unwavering faith steered her towards the one path she would stay on for the rest of her life. A friend in Sunday School told her “I think there is someone you should meet and his name is John Lea Williford.”
John graduated from the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas Law School and then served in the United States Army at the rank of Captain. After leaving the military, he was hired by the legal department of Phillips Petroleum in Houston, Texas.
Given Margaret’s frequent indecision with many things in her life, there was a hesitation but that melted away the moment Margaret and John met.
In the spring of 1964, on April 4th, John and Margaret were married and, not surprising with Margaret’s intrinsic impatience, she gave birth to their son, John Barton, on February 11th, 1965. Though Margaret was still driven by her faith, her heart now focused in one direction towards her son and her husband.
John’s tireless work with Phillips moved them from Houston to Bartlesville in 1968, to London in1981, and back to Bartlesville in 1985. Regardless of the difficulty with John’s travel schedule for work and John Barton’s precocious but slightly combative nature, Margaret, again, demonstrated a selfless focus of giving and work that only a mother’s love could achieve.
Still, Margaret managed to always incorporate her need to do for others and cultivate other pursuits. After returning to Bartlesville, she became even more active in the First United Methodist Church while adding parallel philanthropic organizations such as Eldercare and The Journey Home.
Margaret always had a love for photography which became both an outlet and a passion with a fair amount of frustration mixed in. She was a consummate hostess who relished giving dinner parties for friends…which also contained a fair amount of frustration. However, thru the years, all of who she was fueled by her faith in God and her love for her family. She was a founding member of the First United Methodist Prayer group and it was truly one of the most precious and important experiences of her life.
But, as always, her husband and son were the center of her universe. Though she was anxious when John Barton embarked on a career in musical theatre, she never waivered in her loving support and attended his productions all over the world. Margaret and John began their love affair the moment they met and were married for 56 years. They laughed every day and held each other till the end as though it was the beginning.
Margaret is survived by her husband, John and son, John Barton, sisters, Marjory Irwin (twin) and Phyllis Lehmberg, niece, Meg Irwin, niece, Beth Puterbaugh and husband, Steve and great nieces, Kellie, Melanie, and Hollie, nephew Derek Lehmberg and wife, Akie, and cousin Glen Barton.
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