State leaders gather to remember councilor Ray Burton
This photo provided by Plymouth State University shows Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) with her "Burton for Certain" comb. Burton gave out thousands of combs during his more than three decades of public service. Burton died from kidney cancer on Nov. 12 at the farmhouse where he grew up. He was 74. (AP Photo/Plymouth State University, Bruce Lynds)
A Public Service Scholarship has been established in honor or Executive Councilor Raymond S. Burton. Burton died from kidney cancer on Nov. 12 at the farmhouse where he grew up. He was 74. (AP Photo/Sara Young-Knox)
Ray Burton represented the heart and soul of New Hampshire, Gov. Maggie Hassan said yesterday, as friends and family celebrated the life of the District 1 executive councilor who passed away last month.
Burton died from kidney cancer Nov. 12 at the farmhouse where he grew up. He was 74.
Though Burton traveled thousands of miles a year, he rarely left northern New England. He was remembered yesterday for tireless constituent service over three decades that set a high bar for the state’s other elected officials.
“If it mattered to a constituent, then it mattered to Ray,” Hassan said. “He understood that they deserved the fiercest advocate.”
Among those speaking to the hundreds of Burton friends at the memorial service in the Hartman Union Building at Plymouth State University were Hassan, former governor John Lynch, U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, and state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro. All spoke with affection of Burton’s empathy, honesty and integrity.
Lynch said that Burton “knew he reported to the people of New Hampshire and not the other way around.”
Ayotte lauded Burton for “the care and attention he paid to everyone” and said he was “the kind of friend you could count on.”
A Republican, Burton was first elected in 1977 and, aside from a brief time in 1980, he was re-elected every two years since.
Burton received numerous awards for his dedication to North Country causes. Just days before he died, he attended the renaming of a Mount Washington overlook in his honor.
Born in Burlington, Vt., Burton graduated from then-Plymouth State College and worked as a school principal in the Andover and Warren school districts.
Plymouth State President Sara Jayne Steen said that Burton “shaped his life around bettering the place he loved.”