George A. Burton

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George Aubrey Burton, Jr.

Finance Commissioner of Shreveport, Louisiana
In office
December 14, 1971 – December 31, 1978
Preceded by Dwight E. Saur
Succeeded by Position abolished by change in city charter

Born June 21, 1926
Texarkana, Miller County, Arkansas, USA
Died {June 10, 2014 (aged 87)
Little Rock, Arkansas
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) (1) Joan Cunningham Burton (deceased)

(2) Gloria Brantley Garvin Burton (divorced, deceased)

Children George A. Burton, III (deceased)

Sandra Burton Batten

Alma mater Clifton Ellis Byrd High School

Centenary College of Louisiana

Occupation Certified Public Accountant

United States Navy

Religion United Methodist

George Aubrey Burton, Jr. (June 21, 1926 – June 10, 2014), was a Certified Public Accountant and the last elected municipal finance commissioner in Shreveport, Louisiana, a position which he filled from 1971 to 1978. He was the first Republican since Reconstruction to have been elected to citywide office in Shreveport.[1]

Background

Burton was born in Texarkana, Arkansas, to George A. Burton, Sr. (1903–1980), and the former Theo Simmons (1908–1983). The Burtons thereafter resided in Alexandria in Central Louisiana and relocated to Shreveport in 1935.[1] Burton's grandfather was a railroad employee, and his father was secretary-treasurer of Cahn Electric Company in Shreveport.

Burton attended Line Avenue Elementary School in Shreveport and graduated in 1941 at the age of fifteen from Clifton Ellis Byrd High School, the first public high school established in Shreveport. He enlisted in the United States Navy and entered the Seabees at the age of sixteen. From 1943 to 1946, he served in the Pacific Theater of Operations of World War II. He was a life member of Disabled American Veterans. He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Methodist-affiliated, Centenary College in Shreveport, at which he later taught accounting. In 1952, He passed the CPA examination.[1][2]

After graduation from Centenary College, he was employed by the Operkuch, McGuirt, Watts and West accounting firm, of which he became a partner in 1953. However, he left the company in 1954 to begin his own firm. He was active in the American Institute Of CPA's, the Louisiana Society of CPA's, and the Association of Governmental Accountants.[1]

Political life

A lifelong Republican, he ran unsuccessfully on November 8, 1966, for a seat on the Caddo Parish School Board, as did his fellow Republican George Despot, later the state party chairman.[3] He subsequently served on the Bond Issue and Rapid Learner study committees of the school board.[1]

In September 1971, Shreveport Finance Commissioner Dwight E. Saur, a Democrat, died after serving less than a year of his second elected term. Burton won the special election to fill the remaining three years of the term and took office on December 14, 1971.[4] Despite his overt Republicanism, Burton carved his niche with his Democratic colleagues. In 1974, Burton was reelected finance commissioner with 17,488 votes (68.8 percent) over Democrat (later Republican) David R. Carroll (1926-2011), a Mississippi native and a Caddo Parish police juror,[5] received 7,938 ballots (31.2 percent). That year, Burton had the tacit support of Democratic Mayor Littleberry Calhoun Allen, Jr. (1921-1991), who won a second term. Under the commission form of government then in effect, changed in November 1978 to the mayor-council]format, the mayor was technically the "commissioner of administration."

Running with Burton in 1974 was another Republican, Billy Guin, who waged his second campaign against Public Utilities Commissioner William A. "Bill" Collins and polled 43 percent of the vote.[6] Collins resigned in 1977, and Guin won the seat in a special election. Guin was in effect only the second Republican in modern times to hold municipal office in Shreveport. Serving with Burton were Public Safety Commissioner George Wendell D'Artois, Sr. (1925-1977), and Public Works Commissioner Donald Edgar Hathaway, both Democrats.

D'Artois was forced from office in a multi-faceted political scandal that surfaced in the spring of 1976. At one point before state Attorney General William Joseph Guste, Jr. (1922-2013) was called to investigate, the five commissioners, including D'Artois, were conducting their own probe; "the city investigating itself," said the critics. Burton spoke out against the situation, which he found particularly alarming: "What's going on now is devastating to the city's image. I will favor anything that brings some final disposition to this matter. The city cannot move on anything until this is cleared up. We couldn't pull a public election right now endorsing motherhood."[7]

From 1960 to 1980, Burton was chairman of the Caddo Parish Republican Executive Committee. From 1972 to 1980, he was secretary of the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee, a 144-member body which meets periodically in Baton Rouge. From 1978 to 2008, he the president of the Caddo Parish Board of Election Supervisors.[1]

Family and civic commitments

Burton married the former Joan (pronounced JO ANN) Cunningham (1928–2002), who lived in Amory, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee, before her parents, William and Lucille Cunningham, relocated to Shreveport. The couple had two children, George A. Burton, III (1948–2010), a poet in Shreveport, and his wife Melissa Fowle Burton, and a daughter, Sandra Burton "Sandy" Batten[8] (born 1950), the wife of Rick Alan Batten (born 1954) of Maumelle near Little Rock, Arkansas. After Joan's death, Burton married Gloria Nell Brantley (1930-2013), a native of Homer, Louisiana, and the widow of Bernard Garvin (1927–1997) of Shreveport. They were no longer married at the time of her death.[9]

Burton was a charter member of the Shreveport chapter of Sertoma International and was highly active in his younger years in the Jaycees as the Shreveport president, state vice-president, and a national director. He was a founding board member of East Ridge Country Club. He was a director and treasurer of the Shreveport Legal Aid Society. Burton was a member of the United Methodist denomination.[1][2]

Burton died in Little Rock eleven days before his 88th birthday. A memorial service was held on June 20, 2014 at Noel Memorial United Methodist Chuirch in Shreveport.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 George A. Burton, Jr. obituary. The Shreveport Times. Retrieved on June 15, 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Louisiana: Burton, George A.", Who's Who in American Politics, 2007-2008 (Marquis Who's Who: New Providence, New Jersey, 2007), p. 653.
  3. The Shreveport Times, November 9, 1966.
  4. "Sworn in as finance commissioner", The Shreveport Times, December 14, 1971.
  5. David R. Carroll obituary. The Shreveport Tmes, July 27, 2011. Retrieved on August 4, 2011.
  6. Shreveport Journal, November 6, 1974.
  7. Bill Keith (2009). The Commissioner: A True Story of Deceit, Dishonor, and Death. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Company, 101. ISBN 9781-58980-655-9. Retrieved on June 18, 2014. 
  8. Obituary of George A. Burton, III. The Shreveport Times (March 9, 2010). Retrieved on March 9, 2010.
  9. Gloria Garvin Obituary. The Shreveport Times (July 20, 2013). Retrieved on June 15, 2014.