John W. Burton
  • 61 years old
  • Date of birth: Apr 30, 1952
  • Place of birth:
    Keene, New Hampshire, United States
  • Date of passing: Dec 27, 2013
  • Place of passing:
    Quaker Hill, Connecticut, United States
"I had a good, vivacious life. I have accomplished everything I wanted and all my dreams have come true." "All good things in life require hard work."

This website was created in memory of our loved one, John W. Burton, 61, born on April 30, 1952 and passed away on December 27, 2013. We will remember him forever. A memorial service for John will be held on February 15th at 11 a.m. in Harkness Chapel, Connecticut College. A reception in the nearby Hood Dining Hall, Blaustein Building, will follow the service. All are welcome. Thank you so much for your lovely tributes! Please feel free to share your favorite stories of John by clicking on the "stories" tab above as well, and please don't hesitate to upload pictures and audio/video recordings by clicking on the "Gallery" tab. Thank you very much! 

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Grant Merrill on 5th June 2017

"I am sadden to see the passing of John Burton. I just finished his wonderful book "Culture and the Human Body", and I was looking for his email address to send him a note of thanks. This will have to suffice. Thank you so much, Professor Burton!"

This tribute was added by Napoleon ADOK on 27th December 2015

"Dear Orshi,

I am writing from Yirol South Sudan. I am from the Atuot community the people where your husband conducted his research on our cultures. Today we are conducting memorial service for him today in our church organized by our community. I am sure you will receive the photos and videos for the service. I was young when John visited my village and met with my father and my uncles in Anuol. However when i visited America for the xfirst time in 2006, i phone Dr. John Burton to introduce myself and give him greetings from our people in Yirol, South Sudan."

This tribute was added by Sara Jaeckh on 25th November 2015

"I remember that in my freshman year (2001) I had spectacularly bombed the midterm and he met with me in his office. Instead of berating me or telling me what I should have done, he said that he focused on several faces in the audience to gauge his students' interest, and that I was one of the faces he watched. And I remember being introduced by him to another professor, and he said, in front of me, "She's a great student. She really pays attention." He made me feel so validated. I'm so sorry to hear of his passing (and only just got around to writing this) I took his Introduction To Anthropology course and was absolutely mesmerized by his storytelling. What an amazing soul. RIP, Professor Burton."

This tribute was added by Caitlin Sommer on 15th December 2014

"Dear Professor Burton,
I would not be who I am today, if you had not rescued me from myself during my second semester of freshmen year.  I remember the intro class you taught, and how it articulated all these thoughts I had running around in my head.  You made it "okay" for me to want to "be" differently in the world, and you taught me how to learn about, and find, different ways of being.  You always made yourself available to me, and if it were not for my love of being in the ground (literally), I be a cultural anthropologist.  I am now a professional research archaeologist with a not-for-profit in Colorado, but I owe it all to you.
You helped open my mind beyond my wildest imagination.  
I always thought of you and Professor Juli as my two patron saints in archaeology; you both were my guiding lights.
Thank you for everything you taught me; you were, and always will be, my favorite sitar-playing professor."

This tribute was added by Quito Badaraco on 27th October 2014

"This weekend I met an anthropologist. And I told her about my great experience taking John´s class at Conn 25 years ago. It was the best course I took outside my economics major. I always remember his passion for Africa and teaching, how important is language and communication in any society, not matter the race, social or economic status. I will always remember and pray for you."

This tribute was added by Emily Brouwer on 11th March 2014

"John and Orshi are the two people and professors responsible for the initiation of my curiosity and exploration into the field of anthropology.  They opened my eyes to the world as I understand it today, and for that I will be forever grateful; for their passion and encouragement.  Orshi, my thoughts and heart are with you."

This tribute was added by Alec Lager on 5th March 2014

"Orshi and family,

I am so sorry to hear of John’s passing, and I would like to thank you for creating this page in his memory. Reading through everyone’s stories and tributes, I see a clear theme arising: John powerfully and irreversibly changed the way we see the world. That was, and continues to be, his gift to us all. Personally, I have too many “Professor Burton” anecdotes to share here, but suffice it to say that his influence has led me to travel the world with passion, purpose, and immense curiosity.

One thing I do want to ask about, however, is his hiking. In my freshman year at Conn, John told me about his quest to summit all forty-eight of New Hampshire’s 4,000 footers and I’ve since taken up the same challenge myself. I understand that he completed all but three, and if you don’t mind my asking I’d like to know which mountains those were so that I can finish them on his behalf. I know he’d get a kick out of that.

- Alec"

This tribute was added by Claire Gaudiani on 14th February 2014

"L'Ana,i am so very very sorry to learn of John's passing. I will hold you and the children in my thoughts and prayers. He was always such a generous and kind person with his gifted intellect made more accessible to everyone else by that very kindness of spirit. All of us were blessed to know him."

This tribute was added by Nicholas Kilzer on 5th February 2014

"I had the pleasure to work with Professor Burton on the articles he wrote for the World Book Encyclopedia. He was one of our favorite contributors. On behalf of everyone at World Book, please accept our deepest condolences. His articles will continue to inspire readers."

This tribute was added by Lauren Welch on 29th January 2014

"To the entire Burton family:

I am so sorry for your loss, yet grateful to hear he passed peacefully. He was a such a deeply compassionate mentor and advocate during my time at Connecticut College. Professor Burton was an advisor of mine until my graduation in 2007. He is the reason I first studied in Kenya and that formative trip is certainly the reason I am still living and working in the DRC.

I have fond memories of him playing fetch with the golden retriever on the college green and remember how overjoyed he was with the birth of Julia.

A good friend--a fellow anthropology major who is also living in East Africa--and I kept meaning to send a photo of the two of us, here, still learning, thanks to a piece of advice from Professor Burton nearly ten years ago.

He will be remembered as a wonderful professor and man by countless students."

This tribute was added by Anne Massoni on 26th January 2014

"I was so sad to read that Prof Burton had passed away. I learned so much from him... I was so fond of his classes.

I'll never forget dancing with him during senior week, finally getting an A(-) form him on a paper about photography as a language, and being told to call him 'John' once I graduated.

I'd visited with him a few times since graduating in 1995, he'd been so supportive of my move from anthropology to photography and especially when I'd decided to pursue teaching.

Rest in peace John and thank you for being such an incredible role model, mentor, advisor, and professor."

This tribute was added by Mikkel Lippmann on 24th January 2014

"Dear Orshi and Burton family. My deepest condolences. I was blessed to have John Burton as my Antropology professor from 86 to 89 and being from Denmark he changed my view on things and direction in life. In other words he made a difference. I owe him a lot and I will keep thinking of him for the rest of my days. Thanks for making this website in memory of John Burton and his fantastic life."

This tribute was added by justin paterson on 24th January 2014

"He told me, when I didn’t know what to do after graduation, that if we always knew what would happen to us, life would be very boring. He helped me go to Kenya. And South Africa. But he also gave me directions to Noank. He was right about all of them. When I met him, he would have been about the age I am now. Damn, he was good. And I will miss him."

This tribute was added by Patty Arenson on 23rd January 2014

"I was so inspired and awed by John as an undergrad. I always felt that I was in such good hands when I took his classes. John was so masterful with his words and so passionate about anthropology. When I decided to do a second major in anthropology I met with John and told him I just felt an intuitive connection to the subject, and he looked at me in that intense way of his and told me that I had no other choice then but to pursue it. I remember this was such a magical moment for me, to have someone I looked up to so much tell me this.

When it came time to write my thesis I asked John to be on my committee and he was such a wonderful asset to that process. I am just so thankful to have known him and to have had the chance to learn so much about him during my involvement with the anthropology department. One time we had a fireside chat where he told his entire life story, and that was a magical evening indeed. I will always remember John for being such an important and inspiring part of my college experience. I know that he touched so many lives in his life and he will certainly never be forgotten. All of my best wishes to Orshi, Julia and all of John's loved ones and friends."

This tribute was added by Owen Wiseman on 23rd January 2014

"I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Professor Burton.  He was my major advisor and turned me onto anthropology from the very first class my freshman year.  He forever changed the way I look at the world and will be remembered as the most influential Professor I ever had.  I will truly miss him."

This tribute was added by Owen Wiseman on 23rd January 2014

"I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Professor Burton.  He was my major advisor and turned me onto anthropology from the very first class my freshman year.  He forever changed the way I look at the world and will be remembered as the most influential Professor I ever had.  I will truly miss him."

This tribute was added by Ben Taylor on 23rd January 2014

"Very sorry to hear the news, my deepest condolences.  Prof. Burton was my advisor in the early-mid 90's and the one who pointed me towards study abroad in Kenya, the most horizon-broadening experience of my life, for which I'll always be grateful.

During my first meeting with him, he was very interested to learn that I was a musician and asked with a sly smile, "soooo, what do your parents do?".  He seemed a little crestfallen when I told him banker & social worker, but it all made sense a while later when I learned that I shared a name and approximate age with the son of James Taylor & Carly Simon.

Vaya con dios!"

This tribute was added by Noel Zahler on 23rd January 2014

"I send condolences from my entire family for your loss.  John and I were colleagues at Conn from 1984 through 2004.  We sat together at almost every commencement ceremony and enjoyed each others company so much that, many times, we were admonished for laughing too loud and enjoying the proceedings.  That was very much John.  He was fiercely serious about his work and equally serious about having fun and celebrating the accomplishments of students.  He will be dearly missed and I lament that he has left us so soon."

This tribute was added by Blake Zahn on 23rd January 2014

"Professor Burton shaped and influenced my entire life’s path.  Due to his inspiration and motivation I have traveled to the continent of Africa four times.  Two of my trips were for my own education and growth, where my other two trips involved leading my own students.  Professor Burton’s passions for both Africa and teaching pushed me in a similar direction, where I have been teaching African Studies and World History and Culture for the past nine years.  I see myself as a lifelong teacher, because of Professor Burton’s guidance.  I am so sorry to hear this news of his passing and send you my most sincere condolences.  ~Blake E. Zahn (CC class of 2004)"

This tribute was added by David Barron on 23rd January 2014

"John was my favorite professor, mentor and friend. He will be dearly missed by a lot of people. I will make sure to play a James Taylor song in his memory!"

This tribute was added by Emelia Meckstroth on 23rd January 2014

"Professor Burton changed my life and inspired both my major in and lifelong passion for anthropology. I have never once looked at the world the same way again.

My deepest condolences to his family."

This tribute was added by Kyle de Lasa on 23rd January 2014

"I was so sorry to hear of Professor Burton's death. He was my Professor and Advisor in the late 80's-early 90's. I majored in Anthropology because of his classes and lectures and believe that his words introduced me to world. God Speed Professor Burton and thank you for your knowledge, kindness and wisdom."

This tribute was added by Robert Marbury on 23rd January 2014

"Like many of Professor Burton's students, I can safely say he changed the way I looked at the world.

I remember, in one of the first Symbols classes in the early 90s, listening to him discuss the concept of a bagel. It blew my mind in its simplicity. Through my college years, Prof Burton challenged me and laughed kindly at the discoveries that inspired me.

I saw Prof Burton at reunion this summer. It was crowded and I did not say hello. I figured I would send him a copy of my book when it came out this fall. I wanted him to know that I was still practicing what I learned from him.

you and he are in my thoughts."

This tribute was added by Sarah Hurst on 21st January 2014

"Dr. Burton was my advisor in the late eighties/early nineties. He rocked my young world view by introducing us to different ways of being. Films and stories of Africa were inspiring and unforgettable. (Did that guy really just step out of an elephant carcass?) His lectures irrevocably transformed the way I see the world. Aside from classroom memories, I fondly remember playing tennis with Dr. Burton on the courts behind Cro. and picking up his son, Jason, at preschool and walking him to his mom’s dance class.  Thanks Dr. Burton for inspiring so many. Friends and family - I am so sorry for your loss."

This tribute was added by Kimberley Foster Rogers on 21st January 2014

"I am so sorry for the loss to your whole family and community.  Thank you for creating this site for us to reach out.  I have wonderful memories of the family from the late '80s and early '90s, dancing with L'Ana and the Children. A group of us students took Jona to the Ballets Trocadero when they visited New London. I fondly remember Jason first learning to play the drum(s) for the dance department. (the smallest and youngest drummer in the room by far!).  I know John will be missed so much by you all.
Be gentle with yourselves as you process your grief, it is strange territory, unique to each individual.  But know that you are never alone during this process.  I would be happy to connect with the family if that would be any support.
With Love,
Kimberley "Cricket" Rogers (nee Foster)"

This tribute was added by Michelle Lambert on 21st January 2014

"I'm very sorry for your loss. Dr. Burton was my academic advisor at Connecticut College -- and inspired me to study anthropology in Africa. He was an amazing, inspiring, fun professor."

This tribute was added by Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello on 18th January 2014

"I am so sorry for your loss. John Burton was the first faculty member I ever encountered at CC and I was drawn into his work and his way of being from day one. I am blessed to have had him as my first advisor in college-- he is one of the few professors whose approach has influenced my own work as a faculty member. He touched many, many lives."

This tribute was added by Bethany Jay on 17th January 2014

"I am very sorry to hear this. I was one of Professor Burton's students in the mid-1990s and we stayed in touch as I pursued my PhD.  With the business of everyday life, we fell out of touch in the last few years but I think of him often and he has remained an example to me in my own work and teaching."

This tribute was added by Heather Munro on 17th January 2014

"Orsi, I only just heard the news now. I am so, so sorry to hear about this, and to think of what you and the kids must be going through. Please know you guys are in my thoughts."

This tribute was added by Tamara Cloutier on 17th January 2014

"He was my advisor at Conn in the mid 90's and a wonderful professor. I haven't forgotten him since my years there, and never will. He will be missed.
My deepest condolences to his family for their loss."

This tribute was added by Luke Beatty on 17th January 2014

"Professor Burton changed my life forever.  

He helped me understand other people in a way that I will never forget and will always benefit from....

He was my college advisor and mentor from day one.  


This tribute was added by Arnold Varga on 11th January 2014

"Kedves Orsi!
Fogadd őszinte együttérzésünket. Nem tudok elég okosat mondani, hogy a Férjed hiánya ne maradna meg az után is.
De tudnod kell, hogy Isten betudja tölteni a szívedben tátongó űrt a gyermekeiddel egyetemben, és a sebeid meggyógyíthatja, ha arra kéred és engeded.
Volt alkalmam erre a megtapasztalásra, s minden egyéb kísérlet után engedtem, hogy végül Isten vigasztaljon és meggyógyítson.

Kérni fogom Istent, hogy vegyen körbe titeket a Szeretetével, vigasztalja meg a szívetek, és töltsön be Békességgel mindannyitokat az elkövetkező évtizedekben.
                                   SOK-SOK Szeretettel: Arnold és Klári"

This tribute was added by Árva Péterné on 9th January 2014

"Kedves Orsi!
Fogadd őszinte részvétünket. Sok erőt, egészséget, kitartást kívánunk a gyerekek neveléséhez.  Bennük biztos annyi örömöt , boldodogságot találsz, ami segít betölteni azt az űrt, amit John hagyott.
Erős lány vagy, minden sikerülni fog. Sokat gondolunk rád, kívánunk,  sok erőt egészséget hozzá. Kívánunk még sokkal boldogabb újévet Vas Ági, Vas Józsi."

This tribute was added by Eva Balogh on 6th January 2014

"Orshi, I'm so terribly sorry. Let's keep in touch."

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This memorial is administered by:

Orsolya Burton


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