Rotarian honors: Local couple recognized for selfless service

“What would it take to change the world?” On Rotary International’s Web site it states, “Rotary International is the world’s first service club organization, with more than 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace and eradicate polio under the motto Service Above Self.”   

The Chester Rotary Club honors that pledge and spreads its work throughout the Chester area with  support of local projects, schools and fund raisers to help their local mission, as well as Rotary’s national and international mission.  

Part of the organization’s annual Founder’s Night Banquet, which was held last Saturday, honors an individual with the Warren G. Thompson Community Service Award, named in honor of the club’s charter president. The Chester Rotary Club presents the community service award to an individual, but in some cases, it has been awarded to couples whose joint efforts and accomplishments were singular in scope and purpose. This year’s recipients were Betty and Bill Burton.

Before the couple received their award, Rotary member Chris Sovine shared stories of the Burtons and their work in the community.  The Burtons moved to Chester in 1967 from Alabama.  Their commitment to the community began early with the involvement of raising four children and wanting to make their community a better place.  Bill and Betty continue to reach out to the needs in the communities they feel passionate about and actively participate when called upon by friends in many organizations.

Presently, Betty Burton serves as the kitchen chairwoman for Chester Baptist Church and has been a volunteer at The Hermitage since 1983.  After retirement 15 years ago, Bill Burton volunteered to take on all the technology and computer work for Crater Hospice, CCHASM and The James House.  

Sovine says in an e-mail that “criteria for selection for this Chester Rotary award includes personal, unselfish volunteer efforts and active involvement in helping others on a continuing basis and a demonstrated commitment to improving the lives of those less fortunate.”  

Warren G. Thompson was a member of the Masonic Lodge, board member of Chester YMCA and Chester Community Civic Center, president and zone Governor of Chesterfield Ruitans and charter president of Chester Rotary. After his death in 1992, fellow Chester Rotarians decided to commemorate their respect and admiration for Thompson through this annual award. 

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