Natasha Belton struggled to stay calm when a member of the United States Army Area Veterans Honor Guard handed her the American flag that had covered her great-grandfather’s casket.
“I tried not to think about it,” Natasha Belton said, clutching the flag to her heart after Delbert “Shorty” Belton’s funeral. “I was trying not to cry. I didn’t know what to do.”
Hundreds gathered to honor the life of Delbert Belton at Greenwood Memorial Terrace, where he was buried with full military honors. The air was filled with quiet sobs as Belton’s flag-draped casket was brought to the service by a military guard.
Police say Belton was brutally beaten in his car while he waited for a friend near the Eagles Lodge. Belton’s family opted for a closed casket – Bobbie Belton, his daughter-in-law, said the injuries left him unrecognizable.
Both suspects, Demetruis Glenn and Kenan Adams-Kinard, are in custody and await trial on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree robbery.
Pastor Homer Todd led the crowd in prayer for the service, reflecting on Belton’s life growing up in Spokane and later serving in World War II, where he fought in the bloody Battle of Okinawa.
“Often the path of painful memories is the one that leads us in our direction of our healing,” Todd said. “Most of you have memories crowding in on you.”
Belton had a generous heart, Todd said, and was always finding ways to help his friends. He was “full of vim and vigor,” he said, and despite his old age and declining health always made time to have coffee or to dance with a friend at the Eagles Lodge or the Lariat Inn in Mead.
“There are a lot of gals that will miss having a partner at those events,” he said.
There was also evidence of Belton’s bravery everywhere, he said, from growing up during the Great Depression to facing the enemy in the Pacific Theater and even to the night he died.
“There is evidence on his knuckles as he faced the overwhelming odds of those who would rob him of his money and his life,” he said.