All of my life I have taken pride in my relationships with people. My relationship with the late Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who died of cancer on Nov. 12, began in 1968 when he was working in Gov. Walter Peterson’s office and I was coaching basketball at New Hampshire College. The governor called me in to ask if I would accept an appointment to the Athletic Commission. He was a great basketball fan and had seen some of our games. Ray and I became friends at this time and our friendship has lasted over these many years.
We were both elected to the Executive Council in the 1970s and there began a long period of working together. No person took the job more seriously than did Ray. No task was too large or too small. The man who became known as the “Public Servant of New Hampshire” did his work in spades, representing 75 percent of the land area in the state.
The ever-present Ray never missed an event. His tours became famous and “Burton for Certain” became the bywords of the North Country and beyond. We made many airport tours, hit many events, and in every way Ray was the man to get things done.
There was a wonderful program this month at the Mount Washington Resort honoring this most deserving man. A new scenic overview was dedicated in his name. The setting was super and all of New Hampshire’s finest showed up: the governors, senators, representatives, public officials and just plain folk who were so supportive of this man who has given so much to the state. My friend, Ray, was given his just due. This great American was honored for doing what he loved to do: serve people. No greater honor can be given than to know how much love was flowing Ray Burton’s way.
For almost 50 years, this great man has been my friend. I am honored to have known him, worked with him, and have been witness to all he has done for New Hampshire. New Hampshire has been blessed by his work and we are all thankful for what he has done. The results of his labor will last for many years. I will treasure his friendship all of my life.
Lou D’Allesandro is a Democratic state senator from Manchester. Ray Burton was the longtime Republican executive councilor for District 1.