Joe Denton, age 79, of Clay City, Illinois, went to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on Monday, March 27, 2017, at home surrounded by his loving family.
A funeral service for Joe Denton will be 1 p.m. Friday, March 31, 2017, at Frank & Bright Funeral Home in Flora. Interment will be in Powers Cemetery, Xenia, and military honors will be presented. A visitation will be held Thursday evening from 5-8 p.m. at the funeral home. Memorial donations in Joe’s memory may be given to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and will be accepted through the funeral home.
Joe is survived by his wife: Vera Denton of Clay City; children: Joel Denton (wife Holly) of Flora, Tammy Foster (husband Kevin) of Olney, and Kelly Denton of Effingham; 5 grandchildren: Rachel (Shane) Walker, Ben (Ashton) Denton, Matthew (Amanda) Monical, Kalin Monical, and Jesse Denton; 5 great-grandchildren: Kamry Austin, Eli Walker, Dani Denton, Harper Denton, and Makayla Monical; a sister: Catherine Cunningham of Flora; several in-laws including: Dixie Young and Larry Workman; and a number of nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; a grandson: Schyler Monical; 3 brothers: Hershell, Dale, and Gary Denton; and 2 sisters: Mary Smith and Lois Payne.
They say many times in life that people of small stature are possessors of the largest of souls, and in the case of Joe Ben Denton, this is true. He was a man who has stuffed a whole lot of living in the 79 years he roamed the earth. Born July 25, 1937, in Clay County, to Ben and Nola Denton, he was the 3rd son of a 3rd son, and began his life in dirt poor conditions as did most folks in those days with the stench of the Great Depression still lingering in America. He saw WWII come and go as a child and entered the army himself in the 1950’s and was based in Monterey, CA, at Fort Ord. He married the love of his life, Vera Christine Brown, on June 2, 1959. He became the father and hero of 3 children from 1960-67.
Joe Denton always had a twinkle in his eye, a joke on his lips, and a story to share. He scuba-dived and panned for gold in the American River, rode motorcycles up and down Hwy 1 in California, raced stock cars, motorcycles, crashed derby cars for years, and wrecked more vehicles than most people ever own in their lifetime. He has owned the same truck, motorcycle and house for more than 50 years, and kept the same wife for even longer than that.
He began early in life tinkering with cars and motors and such with the guidance of an older brother and his sister’s husband, George Smith (“Smitty” as he was called), who taught him how to fix a car as well as drive it hard and fast. He was a fair and honest man, who with less than a high school diploma, developed and created his own successful business, J. Denton Auto and Truck Salvage, and for years was known in Clay County and surrounding areas as the man with the purple wrecker. Through that business, he provided well for his family and established a legacy with the famous “purple pickup” which he loved to show off in the local parades for years. The color purple will forever be synonymous with the name of Joe Denton in Clay County.
Later in his 50’s, Joe proudly gained his high school diploma through a GED course and marked that accomplishment off his to-do list. He was a man who loved to have fun, laugh, and make others laugh; he has always been one to grab the bull by the horns. Loving most types of music from Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, and Elvis Presley to his favorite hymn Amazing Grace, he taught himself how to play the harmonica. One of his favorite tunes to play is Red River Valley and has been known to have played an Irish tune on many occasion as the love of his life danced the Irish Jig as he looked on with a twinkle in his eye.
He became the grandpa of 6 adorable grandbabies between the years of 1981-1998, the oldest of which has blazed the trail to heaven and whom anxiously awaits him on the other side. He is adored by all of his grandchildren, and now, his 5 great-grandchildren, all of whom he enjoys greatly. Yes, this great man was full of passion and zeal, excitement and enthusiasm, had a deep fervency for life and grit in his gut. He was a lover of nature, and enjoyed being outside, identifying trees and birds and imitating bird calls of all types. He had a spirit of an explorer, a discoverer, a treasure hunter, and a creative and imaginative heart. He loved to write poetry, metal detect, and loved the sun shining on his face. Yes, Joe Ben Denton was a big soul and has left his giant footprint on this world for a long, long time! Just as a beautiful sunset leaves and afterglow long after the sun has actually set, so will Joe Ben Denton’s life indelibly burn an amazing, fiery, colorful streak across the beautiful land of the living for generations to come!