Joan Burton Messer Cox went home to be with the Lord on November 15, 2020. Joan was born to John Lewis Burton and Annabell Catherine Rosser Burton on January 14, 1929 just east of Belton near the Leon River. Joan was raised and lived most of her life in Bell County, where her grandparents arrived in the late 1800s. She grew up on the family farm with her brother, John Lewis Burton and sister, Mary Margaret Burton Crow. Joan often reminisced about her loving father and mother and was grateful for her stalwart raising and Christian upbringing. Joan trusted in Jesus Christ and was saved at a revival in 1937 under a brush arbor at Taylor’s Valley Baptist Church where she would maintain membership her whole life and teach Sunday School classes for 55 years. Joan was educated in Belton schools where she was surrounded by lifelong friends. After graduation from high school, she, and many of her friends, continued their education at Mary Hardin Baylor College, now University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. She graduated with a bachelor’s in education in 1950, first of her family to graduate college, fulfilling a dream of her father who proclaimed Mary Hardin-Baylor to be “just this side of heaven”. Her college experience and UMHB remained special to her for her entire life. Later in life, she would reunite with high school and college friends almost every Wednesday to sew and share memories. She volunteered at UMHB and not only endowed a scholarship but helped many young girls financially who wanted to pursue Christian education.
After college, she married W.A. Messer and together they had William Alexander Messer III and John Burton Messer. They lived in Mt. Pleasant, Gilmer, and Jefferson where W.A. served as a county extension agent and Joan taught school. Tragically, W.A. died in an earthen dam collapse in 1954. Joan was a 25-year-old single mother with children ages 3 and 1. Joan moved back to Belton where she raised her boys with the help of a loving extended family.
She taught in the Belton Independent School district for 16 years endearing herself to many students who could always count on her for solid instruction, a Christian witness, and a smile. During these years, she supported her school and had great fun with her boys attending Belton athletic events far and wide. As Bill and John grew, she supported them in their band events and basketball games. In 1967 she married Joseph Donald Cox and they had one son, Joseph Donald Cox, Jr. She traveled with Don to many US Navy bases around the country and supported his ministry as a Chaplain. In 1982, she moved back to Belton to raise her son, enjoy her grandchildren, and serve the Lord at Taylor’s Valley as a beloved Sunday School teacher. Joan’s Christian example lives on in the lives of those she touched in her family, in her church, and in school.
Joan was pre-deceased by her parents, her siblings, her husbands, grandson Andrew Philip Messer and great-grandson John Burton Messer, III.
She is survived by her boys, William Alexander Messer III and wife Ann, John Burton Messer, and Joseph Donald Cox, Jr. and wife Regina, and also by stepdaughter Donna Cox Kolar. She is survived by nine grandchildren in whom she poured wisdom and love. They are John B. Jr., Will, Judd and JuliAnn Messer; Anna Cate, Leah Marie, and Sarah Bell Cox; and Jay and William Kolar. Finally, she was great-grandmother to Jackson, Brooks, Macey, William and Macon Messer; Emma Lathi; Jaylee Nixon; and Patricia and Catherine Kolar.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to the Joan Burton Scholarship Fund at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor, 900 College Street, UMHB Box 8409, Belton, Texas 76513.
Funeral services will be held at 1 pm Friday, November 20, 2020 at Taylor’s Valley Baptist Church. A time of visitation will be held from 6-7 pm Thursday, November 19, 2020 at Harper-Talasek Funeral Home in Belton.
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