Dane Blackmour Britton, 56, Ellsworth native, former president of Citizens State Bank and former Director of Security and Drug Enforcement for the U.S. Department of the Interior, died peacefully 17 March 2008 at the Ellsworth County Medical Center, surrounded by family and friends. Dane was born 13 March 1952 at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Wyandotte County, the son of Roy P. and Peg (Baker) Britton.
Growing up in Ellsworth, Dane was an Eagle Scout, served on the National Boy Scout Advisory Committee and actively participated in both the Boy Scout and Explorer programs. He graduated from Ellsworth High School in 1970 and went on to play football at New Mexico Highlands State University and was football manager at Stephen F. Austin State University. Dane graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in criminal justice and political science, and later he graduated from the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin.
Dane joined the Houston Police Department in 1973 and served as an investigator, bomb technician and field training officer, and in 1975, he was named Police Officer of the Year for Houston and Harris County – at the time, the youngest individual ever to receive such an honor. He returned to Ellsworth in 1980 to become president and chief executive officer of Citizens State Bank, representing the third generation of Britton leadership at the bank.
Upon returning to Ellsworth, Dane became active in many economic revitalization efforts and worked to establish the Ellsworth Public Building Commission. His work helped to bring Cashco, a manufacturer of precision control valves and regulators, to Ellsworth, prevented a buyout and possible closure of the Independent Salt Company in Kanopolis, and secured the building and expansion of the Ellsworth Correctional Facility. He was also provided the leadership for the building of the Performing Arts Center and Ellsworth Fire Station. Dane was elected to the Ellsworth City Council in 1985 where he led a drive to establish the 911 emergency service and other civic improvements to the area. He also served three terms as chairman of the board for Smoky Hills Public Television.
In 1988, Dane was named the Director of Security and Drug Enforcement for the U.S. Department of the Interior where he utilized both his criminal justice and administrative talents to oversee law enforcement for all interior department lands, including national parks, Indian reservations, U.S. trusts and territories and security for the two presidential emergency centers. In the remaining months of the Reagan administration, Dane worked to establish the office and coordinate law enforcement efforts among eight of the Interior Department’s 10 bureaus.
Dane was selected as one of two Eisenhower Fellows in 1992, becoming the first Kansan ever chosen for the honor. After leaving Citizens State Bank, Dane worked as an Edward Jones broker in Ellsworth and Salina, and later as a broker with AG Edwards in Salina. He served as chairman of the Salina Planning Commission, on the board of directors of the Salina Community Theater and remained active in civic and political affairs until December 2004. He was an active member of the Ellsworth Masonic Lodge, Isis Shrine, Royal Order of Jesters and Rotary International.
Dane suffered a debilitating stroke in December 2004. In June 2005 he became a resident of the Wilson Nursing Home and was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Wilson. He also served as vice chairman of the Wilson Pride Committee.
He suffered a second stroke on 9 March 2008 which contributed to his death.
On 24 May 1975, Dane was married to Linda Dianne Yarbrough in Cleveland, Texas. Linda preceded Dane in death in April 1979. Dane was then married to Julie Ann (Sawer) Miller in Ellsworth on 30 January 1982 and later divorced. The couple had one daughter, Mackenzie Baker Britton, born 27 January 1983. Dane married Barbara A. Fedor, divorced2005.
Dane’s surviving family include daughter Mackenzie Britton Vahalik and husband Luke of Royse City, Texas; parents Roy P. and Peg Britton of Ellsworth; brother Todd Britton and wife Karen of Ellsworth; sister Ally Britton and partner Ruby Tilton of Ellsworth; and nephews Rod Helus, Drew Britton and Tyler Britton Amn USAF. He was preceded in death by wife Linda Yarbrough Britton; maternal grandparents Margaret and Bruce Baker of Salina; and paternal grandparents Effie and Don Britton of Ellsworth.
Visitation will be Thursday from 1:00 to 8:00 pm with the family present from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Parson’s Funeral Home 307 N. Lincoln. Funeral services will be at Parson’s Funeral Home, Ellsworth at 10:30 a.m. Friday March 21st, Pastor Chris Bair officiating,with Masonic burial following at the old Ellsworth Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to the Ellsworth County Medical Center, the Ellsworth County Emergency Ambulance Service, the Robbins Memorial Library of Ellsworth or the First Presbyterian Church of Wilson.
“When you walk through a forest … you will discover that the decomposing tree trunk and rotting leaves not only give birth to new life but are full of life themselves … So death isn’t to be found anywhere. There is only metamorphosis of life forms. What can you learn from this? Death is not the opposite of life. Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal.” Eckhart Tolley