Joseph ‘Sonny’ Walton, Walton Funeral Home founder, oldest Virginia Beach minority-owned business

Joseph "Sonny" Walton
Joseph “Sonny” Walton

Joseph “Sonny” Walton, of Virginia Beach, longtime businessman, loving father and mentor to many, died peacefully Monday, Oct. 12th, 2015, surrounded by his family.

A native of Norfolk, he was the first of eight children born to the union of Joseph E. and Alice J. Walton in Norfolk. A member of Turning Point Agape International Church, he enjoyed men’s fellowship and various auxiliaries. Sonny graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1950 and went on to attend The McAllister School of Embalming in New York graduating in 1952. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served proudly during the Korean Conflict. Following an honorable discharge, he returned to Virginia where he met and married the late June Setzer Walton. Together, they established Walton Funeral Home in Virginia Beach in 1967 which has the distinction of being the oldest minority-owned business in the city.

Sonny was active in various associations, but took great pride in mentoring and encouraging aspiring young funeral service professionals. In 1979, he also began working with the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Department where he remained for 13 years, retiring in 1992. His focus then became spending quality time with family and traveling. Sonny can be best described as having a kind and gentle spirit and always being a consummate gentleman.

For over six decades, he comforted the hearts of many who had lost loved ones. This humanitarian effort earned him the title as one of the 2012 Living Legends of Funeral Service awarded by the 100 Black Women of Funeral Service. This was an honor he was very proud of and held in high esteem.

Left to continue his legacy are his adoring children, Gail Hope Walton and Joseph Francis “Frank” Walton and his wife, Ta-Tanisha; grandchildren, Phillip Christopher Nelson, Lauren Elizabeth Nelson, Joseph Benjamin Nelson, Autumn Joy Walton and Joseph Robert Walton; loving and dedicated companion, Menor G. Garnett; sisters, Alice (Augustus) Haskins, Marie (Charles) McDowell, Wanza (Alsandro) Turner and Faith (Bertram) McKeithan; and brother, William Linwood Walton Sr. Also left cherishing his memory are a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, colleagues and friends.

The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, at Shiloh Baptist Church, 745 Park Ave., Norfolk. Entombment will follow at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens.

Gail and Francis would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to his healthcare providers, Deverie Alvarez, Melissa Davis, Ada Ferebee and Eric Johnston and Dr. Howard Feldman of Geriatric Medicine & Family Practice.

Please leave online condolences for the family at Walton Funeral Home.

To view the full list of Southside Daily obituaries, click here.

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