Cover photo for Barbara Jean Smith Denton's Obituary
Barbara Jean Smith Denton Profile Photo

Barbara Jean Smith Denton

July 20, 1924 — December 28, 2022

Fort Worth, Texas

Barbara Jean Smith Denton

Barbara Jean Smith Denton of Cleburne, TX, age 98, wife of the late Arthur L Denton, Jr., went home to be with the Lord on December 28, 2022. She resided at the James L West Alzheimer Center in Fort Worth, TX for the last 5 years of her life. She was born on July 20, 1924 to Gladys Brown Smith and Lowell Niles Smith, Sr. of Rio Vista, TX. Jean, as she was called in her early years, was delivered by her grandfather, Dr. Marcus L Brown, at his home in Brownwood, TX. She was his first grandchild, and in his excitement, Dr. Brown forgot to complete a birth certificate, which had to be created years later.

Barbara grew up on the family farm in Rio Vista and obtained her driver's license at age 12 so she could drive herself to school. She graduated from Cleburne High School in 1941. She attended Southern Methodist University (SMU), in Dallas, TX, and graduated in February, 1945 with a degree in journalism. She was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, Mortar Board, Alpha Lambda Delta, Theta Sigma Phi, Alpha Theta Phi, W.S.G.B.(Women's Self Governing Board), COGS (College Organization for General Service), publicity director for the Student Council of Religious Activities, Script and Score, and Square. From 1943-1944 she was the assistant editor of the SMU student newspaper, The Campus, and was on the yearbook staff of the Rotunda. She worked a short time for Dallas Power and Light writing for their in-house publication. She served on the board of the First State Bank, Rio Vista, Texas (Cow Pasture Bank), which her father chaired and later her brother Stretch.

Barbara met her true love, Arthur Lee Denton, Jr., in Cleburne before WWII. Their courtship started at a dance at the Liberty Hotel. She kept all the letters he wrote to her during the war. After the war, they were married, June 15, 1946, on the front lawn of her childhood home in Rio Vista.

Barbara and Art moved to Dallas, TX and joined the First Baptist Church of Dallas. Art soon became a captain for Braniff Airways. Her four children all remember her rising early so she could read her Bible and pray before she made breakfast and sack lunches for everyone. Her grandchildren remember the old school desk in her "prayer closet" where she prayed for her family. Her faithfulness continues to bless generations of her family. She was an encouragement to us all and a model of the Proverbs 31 woman, just like her mother.

When Art retired, they built a home on their land in Rio Vista and expanded the existing pecan orchard. They joined Art's childhood church, First Baptist Church of Cleburne, and were members of the Chapel Class. They enjoyed life on their farm for many years. Art and Barbara hosted Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other occasions for their family for decades. Art passed away in 2006 just shy of their 60th wedding anniversary. Known as "Noni" by her seven grandchildren and her twenty great grandchildren, she was loved by all her family, her extended family and friends.

In her later years, Barbara participated in helping others as a member of Sip and Sew, a group at church that sewed blankets for new born babies to take home from the hospital, and assembled healthy food packages for children to take home from school at the end of the week. While Alzheimer's took its toll in the last few years of her life, she continued to be a blessing to her family.

Barbara was preceded in death by her husband, parents, brother, Lowell Niles "Stretch" Smith, Jr., sister-in-law, Shirley Segars Smith, and son-in-law, Benjamin Franklin Gillispie.

Barbara is survived by her four children and their families: son Arthur Lee Denton, III, wife Sue Ellen Yantis Denton of Fort Worth, their children David Lee Denton, wife Edi Angela Cates Denton, children John Arthur, Audrey Louise, George Cleburne, Elizabeth Jane, William Henry, and Judith Therese Denton of Irving, TX; Mary Ellen Denton Kistler, husband Evan Stanford Kistler, children Greta Lee, Asa James, Peter Augustine, and Charles Thomas Kistler of Winston-Salem, NC; son Lowell Randall Denton, wife Gayle Thompson Denton of Dallas, their children Laura Leigh Denton Camak, husband James Barton Camak, children Ellington Anne , Margaret Louise, Denton James, and Thompson Randall Camak of Richardson, TX; Nathan Randall Denton, wife Jean Louise Cooper Denton, children Kathryn Rose and Cooper Elyse Denton of Dallas; daughter Kathey Ann Denton Gillispie of Cedar Park, TX and her son Benjamin Garrick Gillispie of Cedar Park; son Mark James Denton, wife Sharon Elizabeth O'Reilly Denton of Fort Worth, their children Sarah Elizabeth Denton Niemitz, husband Benjamin Elleau Niemitz, children Riley Anne, Harper Elleau, Sawyer James, and Beau Denton Niemitz of Huntsville, AL; James Arthur Denton of Los Angeles, CA. Barbara is also survived by her nieces, Pamela Smith, husband Hoke Smith of Rio Vista, Sue Ann Smith of Weatherford, TX, and several cousins.

Under the direction of Rosser Funeral Home in Cleburne, a graveside service will be held at 11:00 am, Saturday, January 7, 2023 at Rose Hill Cemetery in Cleburne. Following the service, there will be a luncheon at the First Baptist Church, 414 North Main St., Cleburne. Donations can be made in Barbara's memory to First Baptist Church, Cleburne, or James L West Alzheimer Center, Fort Worth.

The family wishes to thank the caregivers at James L West for their loving care of Barbara.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Barbara Jean Smith Denton, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Graveside Service

Saturday, January 7, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Saturday, January 7, 2023

12:30 - 1:00 pm (Central time)

First Baptist Church of Cleburne, TX

414 N Main St, Cleburne, TX 76033

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Visits: 726

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree