Late councilman remembered for his community spirit

Scene from the funeral service of Lincoln Burton. (Photo courtesy The Barbuda Channel)
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By Elesha George

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Lincoln Jefferson Burton was a generous man, a jovial individual, a sportsman and a businessman with a knack for community development, and a propensity to see discipline and structure.

Those are the traits attributed to the late Barbuda councilman from those who knew him best.

Tributes poured in during and after his funeral ceremony at the Barbuda Pentecostal Church on Thursday morning.

Among them was one from Barbuda MP Trevor Walker, who recognised Burton’s contribution to the council, including one that many to this date remember as one of his most significant achievements on Barbuda.

“I served with him in 2001 and one of the things that is very profound to me is that when he was first elected he served as chairman of the health committee and he insisted with us that the hospital should operate 24 hours a day,” Walker recalled.

Burton served on the Barbuda Council for two terms beginning in 1999 and, according to the MP, “the business part of him became profound in his performance”.

Former senator and Secretary of the Barbuda Council, MacKenzie Frank said Burton was also integral in securing hospital equipment after he implemented the shift system within the first three months as chair of the health committee.

“When you mention his name, I always have fond thoughts; I always smile because Lincoln was such a character. Even though you had an argument with him, you had to just smile because he seemed never to take anything serious although he was one of the hardest working chairman of committee I ever met.

“I think he was possibly one of the best chairmen of the health and social welfare of the Barbuda Council in its history,” Frank remarked.

“One of the biggest complaints that we used to receive from Barbudans in the community was that when they went out to the hospital after hours, there was never anyone there, and these were emergency situations, and so when Mr Burton came in and took over the chairmanship of that committee he said ‘the first policy I’m going to implement is a 24-hour system’.

“At the time it was called Spring View Hospital and he was able to get the staff, the matron and the head of the administrative section of the hospital to work it out and eventually he was able to implement it.”

“Mr Burton, to me, was a very good person,” recalled his friend and former councillor, Atkinson Beazer.

“He wanted the council to be run as a business … a lot of the things we’re seeing today from government, especially, in the way of business. He had a passion for housing projects and at the time it was rejected, but now I’m seeing those projects are back. If those things were done during his time, I think it would have been a better Barbuda.”

The late businessman was the first exporter to resume lobster exports after Hurricane Irma hit Barbuda in 2017.

Burton’s business instincts did not prevent him from showing love to the people around him. Everyone who remembered him spoke of a man who could always make anyone laugh. He is also remembered as president of the basketball association and an avid churchgoer and Sunday school teacher.

Burton’s nephew Brandon Walker remembers his uncle as being protective of his family and someone who loved Barbuda.

“His life was centred around politics and also his business and he has inspired me, you know, that when I’m ready to throw my hat in the ring, ‘if it’s something that you’re passionate about, passionate about your country’. He has always been that guiding light and always supported for me to enter politics if at any time I decide to do so,” he recalled.

“Me and Lincoln were very close and I’m gonna miss him,” added his cousin, Hawkins Walker.

Senator Fabien Jones, who for years served alongside Burton on the Barbuda Council, described him as a very positive person.

“He doesn’t stay and relax in the shadow. He is a person who wants to see things happen and he made things happen. Even when he may not have the finances to get it done, he would find a way to get it done,” he said.

While delivering the Eulogy, his son Courtney Burton fought back tears as he spoke of the fond moments that made his father’s presence so memorable.

“My father was a romantic. He wrote many letters to my mother and he was never afraid to say I love you or how much I appreciate you or how much I care about you. Some people saw that as a fault,” he said.

The late Lincoln Burton died on December 16 after complaining of feeling unwell days before.

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