PLYMOUTH, N.H.–Hundreds of mourners bid an emotional goodbye to longtime New Hampshire Executive Councilor Raymond S. Burton in a December 14 ceremony at Plymouth State University. PSU hosted the public memorial service for Burton, who died November 12 after a period of failing health. The audience included dozens of current and former elected Granite State officials, from small-town selectmen to members of Congress, from all corners of the state. Plymouth State University President Sara Jayne Steen welcomed the audience and noted Burton was a friend to everyone, and he genuinely wanted to help those in need.
“He was there for everyone who needed him, advocating for what was fair and right, tireless in his commitment,” Steen said. “Robert Frost, who taught at Plymouth in 1911 and 1912, said his goal in life was to unite his avocation with his vocation, to spend his days doing what inspired him. Ray achieved that; he shaped a life around bettering a place he loved.”
Governor Maggie Hassan said Burton’s commitment to the people he represented was remarkable.
“For nearly 40 years, Ray Burton stood up for and fought for the people and the communities of the
North Country with a passion that can never be matched,” Hassan said. “No issue, no event, no request was too small for Ray Burton; if it mattered to a constituent, then it mattered to Ray.”
Former Governor John Lynch said he marveled at Burton’s focus on serving his constituents.
“He knew he reported to the people, and not the other way around; that’s an important lesson that all people in public service need to understand,” said Lynch.
“Ray was the embodiment of a dedicated, selfless public servant,” said U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “We will never forget him, we will benefit from his legacy, his works, for generations to come.”
U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte said Burton had little use for partisan politics, always supporting the common good.
“He epitomized New Hampshire in so many ways, using common sense and taking the practical course, even when it didn’t conform to party lines or the popular thing to do,” Ayotte said. “He was the gold standard in public service.”
New Hampshire State Senator Lou D’Alessandro, a former Executive Councilor, said Ray Burton leaves an amazing legacy.
“We are all blessed to say Ray Burton was our friend,” D’Allesandro said. “Every day of his life, he loved what he did and he did what he loved…he loved making a difference.”
Plymouth State graduate Trevor Chandler, one of nearly 150 interns Burton mentored in his Executive Council tenure, said Burton was a great leader.
“He instilled in all of us the focus of public service is always about helping people…always,” Chandler said. “He instilled in us that proud New Hampshire sense of individualism, but also a deep and unyielding sense of community and empathy.”
At the conclusion of the remarks, longtime Burton family friend Duane Baxter presented an oil painting portrait to Governor Hassan, which will be hung in the Statehouse. It was painted by Bath, N.H. artist Craig Pursley, a neighbor of Burton.
Burton was the longest serving Executive Councilor in state history, holding office for 35 years in representing New Hampshire’s First District, forging a reputation as a capable and dedicated public servant.
Burton, a 1962 graduate of what was then Plymouth Teachers College, began his career as a school teacher and principal. He later became an adjunct faculty member in Plymouth State’s Department of Social Sciences. After becoming a member of the Executive Council in 1977, he established an internship program for New Hampshire college students to learn more about the workings of state government. Plymouth State University has established the Honorable Raymond S. Burton ’62 Public Service Scholarship, an endowed scholarship for PSU students from New Hampshire who aspire to public service. In addition to the scholarship, Plymouth State is establishing a Raymond S. Burton Collection in the Lamson Library’s Spinelli Archives and Special Collections, which will house Ray’s papers and memorabilia.
For information about the Honorable Raymond S. Burton ’62 Public Service Scholarship, contact Diane Tiffany at email@example.com or (603) 535-2592
For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or firstname.lastname@example.org