John Hall Dalton was born on March 13, 1927, at Cardwell, Mo., to the late John M. and Geraldine Hall Dalton. He was one of two children. His sister, Judy Dalton Greene, preceded him in death.
According to family and friends, John was known for his curiosity, intelligence, and love of people, as well as his vibrant spirit and encouragement to others. He was said to have a gift for soothing people in times of crisis and relating to people from all backgrounds.
John left high school a semester early to the University of Missouri--Columbia. In 1945, after just one college semester, he volunteered for the U.S. Navy, where he served as a radioman first class at the naval station in Biloxi, Miss.
Following his military career, John went back to the University of Missouri--Columbia, graduating in 1949 with a bachelor of arts degree in history. He then attended Harvard University, earning his law degree in 1952. In his college years, John was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Delta Phi, and in 1977, he was made an honorary member of the Order of the Coif--Missouri chapter.
After college, John moved to St. Louis, Mo., and served as a law clerk for Missouri Federal District Judge, Roy Harper.
In 1948, John began his involvement in politics when he campaigned for Missouri Governor Forrest Smith.
In 1952, John moved back to Kennett, joining his father's private law practice--today known as Dalton and Mowrer--and again getting involved in politics as he helped his father campaign as the Missouri Democratic nominee for Attorney General-which was a success. In 1956, he had a repeat performance during his father's second bid for Attorney General. John jumped back on the campaign trail in 1960, campaigning for his father in his successful bid for Missouri Governor, during which he gave campaign speeches throughout rural Missouri.
According to John's family, he had a true love of people, but it was during these years that he honed his skills as an expert campaigner--knowing how to greet people with "a firm handshake, a ready smile and warm, personal conversation. This was the reason he knew all of the Missouri counties, each county seat, and what railroad went through every town."
In his career at the law firm, John focused on several areas of law practice, including mediation, banking, real estate, probate, estate taxation, and estate planning.
In 1977, Dalton got a new partner at the law firm, Mike Mowrer.
According to Mowrer, John was a "true gentleman. Professional. A great partner. Competent, caring, and compassionate"--a feeling shared by many of his friends and peers.
"He has made his mark statewide," Mowrer said, "in areas other than his chosen profession."
One major mark John made was in his hometown of Kennett when in 1963, he was one of seven co-founders of Kennett National Bank--one of the oldest independently-owned and managed banks in the area. He also served as the bank's Chairman of the Board.
Other accomplishments John achieved in his life include serving as a member of the University of Missouri Board of Curators from 1974 to 1977 and as the board's president in 1977, serving as a mediator for the U.S. District Court-Eastern District of Missouri from 1997 to 2009, serving on the Dunklin County and American Bar Associations, the Missouri Bar, and being named a fellow in the American Bar Foundations.
John held numerous other honors and professional positions, including First Presbyterian Church elder and Sunday school teacher, Kennett Chamber of Commerce President, City of Kennett Industrial and Economic Development and the planning commission, Farmers Union Gin board member, 1949 University of Missouri Student Body President.
From 1966 to 1977, John served as a member of the Missouri State Board of Law Examiners, a body that administers the bar exam to determine whether law school graduates receive their license. The position required John to grade the tests during the summer.
According to family members, "Many current and former Missouri lawyers have been surprised, and in some cases horrified, to learn that their examinations were graded in a canoe or on a gravel bar outside a tent, while taking his family camping"
John was said to truly enjoy his family, making his three children his chief focus as they grew up.
"He attend numerous ball games, and track and swim meets, enjoyed a good afternoon nap, and drove the boat for numerous children as they learned to water ski," his wife wrote in an email.
He was also said to enjoy classical music and reading non-fiction. He had an extensive library that reflected his many interests. He earned a private pilot license and enjoyed flying small planes for business and family trips.
John is survived by his wife, Marianne Dalton, of Kennett; three children, Fran Dalton Cooper, and husband Curtis, of Tyler, Texas, Johnny Dalton, of Kennett, and David Dalton, and wife Margaret, also of Kennett; five grandchildren, Anna Cooper, Jack Dalton, Harry Dalton, Katie Dalton, and Maddie Dalton; and a host of other family members and friends, many of whom recently shared comments about John with his family, including:
* Dennis Nail - "I will truly miss John Hall Dalton! Anytime we met, his first words were usually.... "have you listened to any good music today?" It was a pleasure to discuss with him some of my personal favorites, such as the 2nd movements of Beethoven's 5th & 7th Symphonies, and a special treat to learn we shared many of the same examples. It was an honor to be able to share observations regarding music, composers, and other subjects."
* Shawnee Trowbridge - "will forever be grateful for the invitation to bring my son this year to hunt Easter eggs at his house. I got to sit beside Mr Dalton on the deck and spend a half hour asking him questions and listening to him tell stories. I ask him to tell me (again) the story of him getting the car stuck while on the campaign trail with his father when he was Governor. And he told me (again) the story of how he met Harry Truman, and how Mr Truman broke his heart. He talked about sitting in the office and listening to dignitaries at the Capitol building. He told stories so colorful you could hear the ice in glasses and smell the smoke from the cigars."
* Matthew Collier - "He was an icon of Kennett, a real leader and a man enriched by the arts of all kinds. I got to see a side of your Dad I'd never seen during the KEF fundraiser at the Opera House in September. He partied and danced with reckless abandon! It was awesome! He was having the time of his life, truly enjoying the moment. It made me stop and think, we all need to do that more often, and it's usually the older folks that have to teach us that!"
* Coleen Pu - "I always loved being in your Dad's presence, He was a gentleman and a friend. He would always greet you with a smile and give you a hug and his conversations with you were delightful and always interesting. He always wanted your feedback. We are so sorry his physical presence will no longer be with us but so thankful for the memories. He will always be in our hearts!"
* Nancy McVey - "He was a wonderful gentleman and always so gracious. He also enjoyed a good laugh and I smile thinking of him."
* Claire Haggard (niece) - "Uncle John, Thank you for pushing me to be my best...telling me to read, read, read and for teaching me how key education was/is. I will always have a spot in my heart reserved for you."
* Marvin Taylor - "He taught me how to be a husband and a father. He helped me be the man I am."
* Janet Campbell Baker - "I will miss him. I will miss his smile and his cheery hello. No matter what kind of day I was having, when he came into the bank I was in a better mood when he left......He was like a light that came on and brightened the place up."
* John Gamble - "I spent a great deal of time at the Dalton household as a child. I already miss that gentle voice challenging me to be a better student, son, man."
* Ashley Hodgson (Sunday School student) - "He was one of the greatest men. I experienced Jesus through knowing him."
* The Daily Dunklin Democrat would like to extend a special Thank You to the Dalton family for assisting with the information provided in this memorial.