Ron Burton, community philanthropist and the first New England Patriot drafted, passed away in 2003, but his legacy lives on in New England and beyond. He used his football legacy to help deliver his message of hope, determination and optimism, emphasizing that love, strong family values and hard work can overcome any obstacle.
Mr. Burton hailed from Springfield, Ohio. At the time he graduated from high school, he was considered the finest football player in the state and had offers from 47 colleges. He chose Northwestern University and went on to be one of the greatest players in school history. He joined the Boston Patriots in 1960 and played with the team until his retirement in 1966.
Throughout his years with the Patriots, and the subsequent years he spent in broadcasting and insurance, community service was a constant thread running through Mr. Burton’s life. He served on many civic boards and charities and was widely recognized for his service and philanthropy. He established the Ron Burton Training Center in Hubbardston, Massachusetts, which serves underprivileged youth from inner city neighborhoods.
In 2003, the MIAA instituted a Community Service Award in Ron Burton’s name and the first recipient was his son, Steve Burton.