School 10

Donna Joanne (Lisle) Burton

November 14, 1929 ~ November 20, 2020 (age 91)



Donna Lisle Burton, 91, of Fairview, NC, died November 20, 2020.

Mrs. Burton was born on November 14, 1929 in Cleveland, OH to Madge L. and J. Dean Lisle, and spent her formative years in Steubenville, OH.   She received a BS (’61) from The College of Steubenville (now the Franciscan University of Steubenville), an MA (’62) from The Ohio State University, and her primary teaching certificate (’69) from the Montessori Internationale Training Center in Atlanta, GA.  Her teaching career spanned forty years.  In 1963, along with renowned attorney and Civil Rights activist Mary Lee Stapp, she co-founded the first school for African-American children with intellectual disabilities in the state of Alabama.  The following year, she was hired by Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) to establish and head their Special Education Department.  In 1969, she established a Montessori school on the Tuskegee campus.  Following a move to Greenville, SC in the early 1970’s, Mrs. Burton began a career with the School District of Greenville County.  In 1988, she was named Teacher of the Year at her school, and went on to be named one of the top ten finalists for Teacher of the Year in Greenville County. 

Mrs. Burton was an avid lover and practitioner of the arts.  She was an accomplished pianist.  A painter, she studied from 1954-1957 with Robert Brackman,  well-known artist and teacher at the Art Students League of New York, at his summer art school based at his summer home in Noank, CT.  She self-published three books of poetry:  Scarlet Leaf, Earthbound, and Letting Go.  Letting Go was re-released by Asheville-based Pisgah Press, which also published her fourth and fifth books, Way Past Time for Reflecting and From Roots to Wings.  Her final book of poetry, Once Again, Lightly, will be released posthumously by Pisgah Press.  Her poetry was also published in a number of literary magazines, including the Atlanta Review, Illuminations, Potpourri, Main Street Rag, Kalliope, and The Licking River Review.

Mrs. Burton was a member of the Universalist Unitarian Congregation of Asheville, and a lifelong Democrat. 

She is survived by her children, Cassia Imholz of Fairview, NC, and Timothy Dean Gordon of Boulder, CO.  Other survivors include her grandson, Anthony Dean Imholz of Fairview, NC, her sister, Katherine Lisle Haines of Powell, OH, and many beloved cousins, nieces, nephews, and their respective children and grandchildren.  In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her husband, James Alan Burton, her sister, Helen Lisle Ice, and her brother, James Dean Lisle. 

A memorial service will be held at a later date.  In lieu of flowers, you may remember Mrs. Burton by sending a contribution to the charity of your choice. 

Penland Family Funeral Home is honored to be assisting the Burton family with arrangements.

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