Every small community needs someone who can fix things without it costing an arm and a leg. The community of Lincolnville is fortunate to have such a person.
Warren Barton, 75, has been the “go to” man in Lincolnville for almost 30 years. He fixes push and riding lawn mowers, garden tillers, bicycles, chain saws, and even small appliances. He has a reputation for quality work.
“I’ve always had a theory that if another man made it, I can fix it,” he said. “And if I can’t, it needs to be thrown away.”
He charges a small fee for his service and in some instances does the work for free.
“A lot of widows live in Lincolnville, and they don’t have any more than I have,” he reasoned. “Besides, if I would make more, I would just have to send it to the government.”
He has regular customers from Herington and Marion, as well as Lincolnville and the surrounding community.
Mike Combs, a local farmer, recently brought Barton a portable generator that needed some work.
“If I took better care of my stuff, it would maybe last longer,” Combs said. “It’s a good thing we have Warren around.”
Arlene Kleinschmidt, a Lincolnville resident, said she appreciates Barton because “he fixes things just like my husband would. He will buy an expensive part, if necessary, but will make do with what he has, if possible.”
She said she has a 48-year-old toaster that still works thanks to Barton’s expert workmanship.
His charge is so minimal that Kleinschmidt always gives him more than he asks for.
Elva Holub, 86, of Lincolnville is thankful for the service Barton provides.
“He’s always there, and he always comes when you call him, like when you run over a rock with the lawn mower,” she said.
One time, he fixed her washing machine.
She voluntarily pays him something from time to time.
How he got started
Barton and his wife, Maxine, moved to Lincolnville in 1976. He worked for Donahue Corporation at Durham for five years, and then took a job as a bus driver for Centre USD 397.
After becoming a bus driver, he discovered he had extra time on his hands.
He bought a few things at garage sales and fixed them. He also began doing some body and fender work on vehicles, something he had done for 25 years in Wichita.
Barton grew tired of that line of work and started responding to requests for fix-it jobs. He’s been going strong ever since.
He also tends a small garden that produces bushels of tomatoes, as well as cucumbers and squash.
The first Saturday of every month, Barton goes around town with a little trailer and picks up recyclables for the county recycling trailer that comes to town.
Barton retired from the school district in 2005. He said his work as a handyman helps him to keep his mind sharp. Besides figuring out how to fix things, he writes nothing down and keeps everything in his head, such as what belongs to who.
For entertainment, he uses a computer in his shop to listen to downloaded music and play games.
“It all keeps me occupied,” he said.
And it keeps his customers happy.