In 2015, the family of Donald and Janett Walton established an endowment
fund with the Martin County Community Foundation. It is appropriately named
the Donald and Janett Walton Endowment Fund for the Betterment of Martin
County. As an unrestricted fund, it will honor these two community leaders
by providing funds in perpetuity, to enrich and better the lives of those
who still call Martin County home.
Sadly, neither Donald nor Janett are with us today. Donald passed away in
1998 and Janett in 1999. But there are “signs” in Martin County that take on
extra meaning when understood. Some are actual road signs, other “signs” are
more subtle and one can only appreciate them when a fuller explanation is
received and understood.
At West Boggs Park there is a road sign, which reads, “Donald Walton Lane”.
East of Loogootee is the thriving White River Co-op; there one can see
trucks and other vehicles coming and going daily as the business of
agriculture is conducted by this high-tech and important component of the
Martin County economy. A little further down Hwy. 50 is the Martin County
4-H Fairgrounds; most of us cannot remember a time when it wasn’t there.
Loogootee has a school system that has repeatedly ranked as a four-star
school, with a record of producing students that make our community proud.
We who live in the present may forget that these seemingly disconnected
entities didn’t always exist, but were made what they are today by people
who sacrificed to make them reality a long time ago. They “planted the shade
trees which we enjoy sitting under today.”
Donald and Janett, in addition to supporting each other, served in some
capacity to make our community better. Donald served on numerous boards
associated with his beloved agriculture profession. He was truly a visionary
man. Janett was the treasurer of the Loogootee School Corporation for 27
years and was an intricate component of making the school system what it has
It seems that the accomplishments already mentioned would be enough for two
people to have done in a lifetime, but there was much more. They also
operated a productive farm in the West Boggs Creek area and it is still
owned by the Walton family. The Loogootee United Methodist Church was a
mainstay in their lives too, and it benefited from their common sense
approach of applying their faith to life. Other groups that this dynamic
couple belonged to include, the Loogootee Masonic Lodge, the Republican
Central Committee, Dairymen, Inc., the West Boggs Park Board, the Order of
the Eastern Star, and the Sunshine Home Economics Club.
Some members of the Martin County community that Donald and Janett touched
in their lifetimes include their farming neighbors and many farm hands that
they employed over the years.
Former neighbor and friend Beth Smith Lett had this to say about the Waltons,
“When I think about Donald and Janett Walton, I remember a happy,
hardworking, and frugal couple who valued the Walton farmland belonging to
past generations. However, their greatest love and enjoyment was raising
their two daughters, Cheryl and Brenda. They lived in the Boggs Creek Valley
where neighbors seemed like extended family. Sharing work and workers during
hay and harvest seasons were expected and enjoyed. Although dairy farming
required long hours, Donald and family could always be found at school,
church and community activities. Of special note were the many Martin County
and 4-H Fairs that were better because of this family of four.”
Amongst their many farm hands was Tim Dant. He recalled this about the
Walton’s. “I was a young man and needed a job, well I got far more than just
a job when working for the Walton’s; I got an education. I learned so many
things working on the Walton farm. First was how to operate machinery, as
well as appreciate how to take good care of it. Donald also taught me how to
help deliver the calves and pigs, and tend to them so they would grow and
thrive. From a personal perspective they treated me as one of the family.
They allowed me to work around my sports schedule at school, and always
encouraged me to attend church and school. Donald helped me start my first
savings account at the Credit Union, I still have it today. I sat at their
dinner table regularly and enjoyed Janett’s great cooking. Looking back,
having worked on the Walton farm was one of the best experiences of my life.
Ironically enough, my sons have each worked on the same farm. So even the
Walton land that I worked and learned on has provided opportunities for a
Faith, family, hard work, and positive community involvement are the
building blocks of a strong society. To have had these two people live their
lives amongst us and share their talents has helped shape our county for the
The Martin County Community Foundation is deeply honored to have been chosen
to provide this memorial to Donald and Janett Walton.
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