March 10, 1930 – Aug. 27, 2017
John Belton, of Orchard Park and Schenectady, a teacher and school administrator, died Sunday in Buffalo General Medical Center after a short illness. He was 87.
Born in Akron, Ala., he graduated from Lackawanna High School in 1949 and completed an apprenticeship program to become a bricklayer.
He worked at Bethlehem Steel Corp. while attending Erie County Technical Institute, now Erie Community College, where he earned an associate’s degree in drafting and design.
Mr. Belton attended Buffalo State Teachers College, earning a bachelor’s degree in vocational education, then began teaching vocational education in Buffalo in 1957. He worked at School 37 and Woodlawn Junior High School.
After he earned a master’s degree in education and an advanced degree in educational administration from the University at Buffalo, in 1966 Mr. Belton moved out of the Western New York region.
"I began to work with the State Education Department and went to a job there," his wife of 62 years, the former Doris Baker, said. "We both relocated and he was able to get a teaching position."
Mr. Belton was a vocational education teacher in the Mohonasen School District in Rotterdam and an assistant principal in Schenectady. His wife became one of the education department's vocational education directors.
Mr. Belton retired from public education in 1989.
He continued his work for a time in Schenectady, as administrator for Refreshing Spring Christian Academy and Tree of Life Christian Academy. He founded a cooperative after-school program and recruited public school teachers for the staff. He also was founder of the International Charter School of Schenectady, the city's first charter school, and served on its board.
"He was always very active with the youth and the church," his wife said. "He loved to do things. He was not a sit-down person."
The Beltons took an apartment in Orchard Park in 2015 to be closer to their daughter and her family, but kept their home in Schenectady and regularly returned there.
Mr. Belton was active in the NAACP and was a lay minister and elder in the Church of God in Christ for many years. He visited hospitals and prisons in Schenectady and, after he was ordained in the 1980s, served as an interim pastor at Higher Ground Worship Center in Schenectady.
An accomplished artist, he also had a lifelong passion for music. He played piano, organ, autoharp, accordion, drums and trombone.
In addition to his wife, survivors include a daughter, Jane Belton Burgio; and two granddaughters.
A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Potter’s House Church of God in Christ, 279 Ingham Ave., Lackawanna.