March 30, 1971 – August 23, 2021Danton Barto
, 50, passed away on August 23, 2021. He was born in Muncy, Pa., before his family eventually moved to Niceville, Fla., where Danton attended high school and became a decorated All-State Linebacker for Niceville High School. After graduating high school in 1989, Danton attended the University of Memphis, where he was a four-year letterman in football, a two-time nominee for the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation's best linebacker and a Football News All American for three years (1991-1993). Following a decorated college career, he played professional football in the Canadian Football League and the Arena League. After his playing career was over, Danton's life in football continued as a coach and a scout. He coached from 2002-2012, including a stint as head coach of the Memphis Xplorers in 2005 when the team won the Arena Cup, the championship of AF2. Later in his career he served as a scout for the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams from 2013-2017.
Danton's football career at the U of M was storied and he is considered by many to be the best player in the program's history. He still holds the school records for career solo tackles (273) and career total tackles (473) as well as being ranked second all-time with 200 career assisted tackles.
He was an All-South Independent first team honoree in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Danton was also named the All-South Independent Defensive Player of the Year in 1992 after leading Memphis with four interceptions. In 1993, Danton recorded 63 assisted tackles, which still ranks as the fourth-best single season mark in school history. His 144 total tackles that same season was good enough to remain 5th in Tiger history and Danton earned All-IFA Conference first-team honors in both 1992 and 1993 and was the All-IFA Defensive Player of the Year in 1992.
A two-time Southern Living All-South Team honoree (1992, 1993), Danton was presented the Highland Hundred MVP award in both 1991 and 1993. This long list of accomplishments led Danton to a spot in the 2007 Class for the M-Club Hall of Fame.
But college wasn't the only place where the spotlight shined on Danton's football career. He was co-captain of his high school team, Niceville Eagles, when it won the state championship in 1988. He was also named captain for the defense of the 1988 Florida-Georgia All-Star Game. As a coach, Danton was named AF2 Coach of the Year following the Xplorers' championship season in 2005. Other head coaching stints included the AFL's Las Vegas Gladiators (2006-2007) Manchester Wolves (2007-2010), Kansas City Command (2011-2012) and most recently he was an NFL Scout for the St. Louis (LA) Rams from 2013-2017.
Danton is survived by his Wife, Shelly Beth Barto; Son, Will Barto; Father, Curtis Barto; Mother, Sherry Taylor Manuel; Brother, Mickey Barto; Sister, Sarah Barto Petersen (Brice); Nephew, Bryce Barto; Step-Mother, Margaret Danae Hails and Step-Brother, Bo Lewis. In addition, he is survived by several children by marriage.
He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. Calvin (Betty) Barto and Mr. & Mrs. Raymond (Agatha) Taylor.
"Danton was the best dad in the world, a larger than life figure in Memphis," said son, Will. "He was a great father and a great football player and even better friend. Danton's character will always speak for itself. Dad, I will miss you and always love you and the memories we had together. Your legacy will live on for eternity."
Shelly Beth echoes Will's sentiments.
"Danton, my love, where do I begin? We were living a fairy tale from the day we met," she said. "We have the most incredible love story and you taught me the meaning of unconditional love and for that, I will always be grateful. I will carry you in my heart forever. I will praise God for the rest of my life for blessing me with you. Please be waiting for me babe because I am going to come running into your arms. Until we meet again…"The family will receive friends on Thursday, September 16, 2021 from 4:00 p.m. until the Memorial Service at 6:00 p.m., all at Bellevue Baptist Church located at 2000 Appling Road, Cordova, Tennessee.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Danton's name can be made to
either of the following:
University of Memphis Tiger Scholarship Fund 901-678-2334 or [email protected]
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital 800-805-5856 or www.stjude.org/donate
"I would rather live 1 day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep"Arrangements entrusted to Brent Taylor Paul McCarver Funeral Directors 901-707-8115 brenttaylorfuneraldirectors.com.
Published by The Daily Memphian on Sep. 10, 2021.