George Wesley Burton was born on March 12, 1929, in Stokesdale, North Carolina to John and Kittie Burton. He was one of 15 children. As a child he was spoiled by his sisters who called him Brother. George died March 1, 2023, 11 days before his 94th birthday. He was preceded in death by his parents, 14 siblings, two infant sons, and his daughter Regina Burton.
George is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 51 years, Martha Burton. George’s love for Martha sustained him through his final months and days. The love he and Martha shared was evident in their relationship of faithfulness, trust, commitment, and acceptance of each other. George was the proud father of eight surviving children. His three oldest children from a previous marriage: Renee Jefferson (John), Stephen Burton (Pam), and Cynthia Burton. He and Martha also raised together Janet Matthews (Michael), Andreas Karrer (Michelle), Diana Rankin (Steve), Sylvia Brown, and George Burton Jr. George is also survived by numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and his brother-in-law Charles Thomas.
George’s parents instilled the meaning of family, commitment, and faith in God. In his youth, George and his family attended Oaks Springs Baptist Church in Stokesdale, N.C. where his parents were active members. George followed in his parents’ footsteps by becoming a Baptist Sunday School teacher in Tacoma in the early 60s. He was a member of the Central Lutheran Church in Tacoma and drove the church bus for parishioners to attend services. He attended Greater Heights Church of God in Christ.
George graduated from Springfield High School where he played baseball and basketball. He moved to Detroit, Michigan in the early 50s to pursue better job opportunities in the auto industry. He was drafted into the army in 1952. His military service extended through the Korean and Vietnam eras and post war Germany. George met Martha, during his second tour in Germany, while stationed in Mannheim, Germany. George was awarded the Bronze Star before he retired in 1973 as a Chief Warrant Officer III while stationed at Fort Lewis Army Base. After retiring from the army, George was employed as a supervisor at Pierce Transit. He was a member of the Prince Hall Masonic Masons and a lifetime member of the African American Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Association.
George was a family man who enjoyed family gatherings and hugs and kisses from his great grandchildren who he welcomed onto his lap. He often greeted his family with “hey partner”, “hey pretty”, “hey tiger”, or “hey slick”.
George was an avid gardener. He enjoyed using the Farmers’ Almanac to determine the right time of year to plant his vegetables. George loved to take his children and grandchildren fishing and dipping for smelt. He often mentioned his desire to return to Alaska to fish for halibut and salmon. George enjoyed watching the Mariners baseball team, old western shows, and Wheel of Fortune. He enjoyed playing pinochle, dominoes, cribbage, and listening to gospel, blues, and Rhythm and Blues.
George’s most notable proof of his resilience and strength was evidenced by his defiance of his life expectancies predicted by the medical field. He repeatedly defied and disproved their predictions until the very end. George had tremendous willpower, but he always said that God was keeping him here for a reason. He did not know why; he just trusted and accepted it.
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