William Donald Burton (Bill) passed away in Tallahassee, Florida on November 21, 2018. A member of a pioneer Osceola County family, he was born on February 25, 1936 in a small home on Portage Street in Kissimmee, Florida. Bill was the son of the late Fred and Lessie Burton and was a fourth generation native of Kissimmee. His ancestors included the Hansel, Padgett and Sullivan families. Bill was raised in Kissimmee, except for 7 years when his family moved to Detroit for Fred’s work. He attended Osceola High School and graduated in 1955; there he was a Thespian and played football and baseball. Bill pitched a no-hitter during his high school career. He attended Jones Business School in Orlando and then made the decision to complete his active military obligation. He was in the Reserves in high school, then went into active duty in the Navy in 1956. He served aboard two Destroyers, the Cotten and the Smalley. After completing his active duty service, he returned to Kissimmee. He found work as a Security Guard at the Martin Plant, but soon wanted to advance his career. He began schooling in electronics and was hired by Martin. His work included the Pershing missile.
In 1957 while home on leave, his cousin Lynwood Lupo introduced him to Claudia Banks a new resident of Kissimmee. After his discharge in 1958, he and Claudia began dating and were married in 1960 at the First United Methodist Church in Kissimmee.
Bill and Claudia built their home on Highland Circle in Kissimmee and remained there for 43 years, working and raising their family. As Bill’s retirement neared, Claudia began to search for a Model A as a retirement gift. He had one as a teenager and always wanted another. Kim and Gerry found one advertised in Tallahassee. “Mom”, this car is really bad, maybe we should continue looking”. Two months later the car was advertised again, and we decided this should be no surprise, but let him see it and decide if he wanted that much of a project. He saw the car and his wheels started turning. The owner had purchased it in Quincy, used it for college, then placed it in an open shed for 27 years. It was a mess, but we brought it home to Kissimmee. Bill retired in 1998 and at his retirement party he excitedly showed everyone his car. Most comments were “are you crazy” but the restoration began in our garage. A short time later he was diagnosed with Leukemia. The Model A was a blessing and gave him focus during his first chemo treatment. It took two- and one-half years, working almost daily, to fully restore the Model A. His partner at times was Earl Moody who was also restoring a Model A Truck. Bill and Claudia joined the Model A’s of Greater Orlando club. The car brought them great joy and such special friends. After completion of the restoration in 2001, Bill and Claudia put more than 34,000 miles on the car and collected so many happy memories.
In 2013, their son Charlie (47) was lost to non-smoking Lung Cancer. Bill’s health was already strained, and things started going downhill. He began to experience Parkinson’s symptoms and dementia. He voluntarily discontinued driving in 2015, even his beloved “Vivian” the Model A. A decision was made in 2017 to relocate to Tallahassee for additional family help. Things never improved for Bill, and after a difficult year of falls, confusion, too many transfusions to count and weakness, Bill passed away Thanksgiving Eve Day, one year to the day from leaving Kissimmee. An incredible man has gone to God.
He is preceded in death by his parents, his sister Jean Carroll, and his son Charlie Burton. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Claudia, daughter Kim Walker (Gerry); son Cole Burton (Lynette); daughter-in-law Debbie Burton; grandchildren, Kayla Burton Flannery (Christopher), Sam Walker, Bryce Burton, Tyler Walker, Jake Burton (Elaina), Jessie Burton, and Leacy Burton; niece Pam Carroll Roberts (Charlie) and nephew Doug Carroll.
The family received friends on Monday, November 26, 2018 from 6:00 P./M. to 8:00 P.M. at Conrad & Thompson Funeral Home. A Service to Celebrate the Life of William D. "Bill" Burton will be held Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at 11:00 A.M. in the Roger C. Thompson Memorial Chapel at Conrad & Thompson Funeral Home with Mr. Jacob Burton of Asbury United Methodist Church, Maitland, Florida officiating. Interment will follow in Rose Hill Cemetery, Kissimmee, Florida.
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