In Memory of Roberts H. Burton
by Charles McKelvy
This blog’s for you, Bob.
Yes, you, my dear friend Roberts Hedge Burton who put so much dash in the dash between your dates of December 8, 1928 and August 25, 2016.
We interred Bob on Saturday, September 24, 2016 at Lakeside Cemetery beside his dear wife Jane who left us in 1987, and I was honored to have been asked by the family to play Taps at the grave.
Bob and Jane Burton are dear to us, you see, because they were the ones who saw to it that every t was crossed and every i was dotted back in 1986 so we could purchase the potentially charming cottage at 115 Dune Road here in Camp Hazelhurst in heavenly Harbert, Michigan. We never would have made it without their help, and we will always cherish that moment when Bob pulled up in his big station wagon and helped Jane out of the car and up the walk and into our house for grateful hugs. Yes, she was literally at death’s door, but she so much wanted to, as she said, “help that pair of struggling writers” buy their dream cottage.
And she did.
With Bob’s help, of course.
You don’t forget folks like that.
And we didn’t forget to honor Jane at her funeral in Evanston, Illinois in 1987, and we certainly didn’t forget to honor Bob at his in Lakeside, Michigan in 2016.
Bob Burton, so you know, was a lifelong devotee of Robert Frost and everything Robert Frost. He could quote Frost’s poems from memory, and when I asked Bob to be the technical advisor to my one-act play, No Dice, in 1993, he enlivened rehearsals by declaiming Robert Frost. By the way, Bob consulted on the game of golf and its arcane rules. I never played golf with Bob, but I knew he was an avid enthusiast of that game of clubs, and so I invited him to keep the golf references in my play on the fairway. He did, and I certainly loved having him on my side during those nervous weeks leading up to the two performances of my play at Lakeside Studio.
In later years, we didn’t see so much of Bob and his big station wagon, but he stayed in touch via this blog. He was a devoted follower and often logged in on what had been blogged that day.
I felt like Robert Frost himself was following me.
Bob, so you know, is survived by his two sons, Roberts G. Burton and John E. (Jacqueline) Burton; his granddaughter Anna Jane Burton, and his three grandsons, Christopher Burton, Gregory Burton, and Joseph Burton. And, of course, by many, many friends such as ourselves.
And, now, I simply cannot close this tribute to my friend Bob Burton without reciting (not from memory) his favorite Frost poem:
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Enjoy the easy wind and downy flake, my friend.