September 22, 2003 by

Ron Burton


Categories: Sports

Ron Burton, the first player ever drafted by the New England Patriots, died on Sept. 13 from bone cancer. He was 67.
“Touchdown Ron” was an All-American at Northwestern when the Boston Patriots snapped him up in the 1959 American Football League draft. In his six seasons with the Patriots, the running back caught 111 passes and scored 19 touchdowns.
After retiring from football in 1965, Burton became an executive consultant for the John Hancock Life Insurance Co. In his spare time, he devoted himself to philanthropy by giving motivational speeches and founding the Ron Burton Training Village, a summer camp in Hubbardston, Mass., for inner-city kids.
Burton was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1990, and received the “Heroes Among Us” community service award from the Boston Celtics in 2001. This past summer, the New England Patriots’ Ron Burton Community Service Award was established to honor players who make an impact on the New England community.

18 Responses to Ron Burton

  1. casey cummings

    I met Ron Burton in the fall of ’82 at Northwestern when I had the opportunity to play football with his sons Steve and Ron. He gave us all a sense of inner strength, passion, faith and a calmness that hit deep and was very evident in all of his children. The world is a better place knowing Ron Burton walked with us. The Lord has called him Home to take an important leadership role on his team. Thanks Mr. Burton and God Bless to your entire Family and Legacy.

  2. Brent

    I met Mr.Burton going into my nineth grade year of high school. He helped change my life around and made me view what life can be life and how we affect it by what choices we make in life. I miss you Mr. Burton, God you are lucky to have him.

  3. Marsha McCarthy

    Ron Burton was more than a friend, he was a guiding light to many people including my children. I hope to do half of what he did for others in his lifetime. He had more to give than we could ever give back. His legacy lives on at The Ron Burton Training VIllage. He will be missed but never forgotten. We love you Big Guy, Mr. B,

  4. Len Anctil

    I was fortunate to meet Ron Burton and start a relationship with the Burton family that has now spanned 8 years. His statistics do scream hall of fame but he contributed so much more that statistics. We honor and revere our sports heroes for their achievements on the field but rarely for what is most important

  5. Tony Tang

    Mr. Burton was one of the greatest people I have come across in my lifetime. His passion to teach us how to live the right way and to “Love One Another” has been instilled in me for the rest of my life. I attended the Ron Burton Training Village when I was a teen. I was amazed of not what this camp did to me physically but emotionally and spiritually it changed my life. He has been an inspiration in my life and I will always Love him for that. I wish to be just like Ron Burton when I grow up. I was truly blessed to know a man of that nature and I am even more thankful to have relationships with his family. I love you Mr. Burton. Me 3rd.

  6. Brandon Clark

    I attended Mr. Burton’s camp for several years and the time I spent with him and the things he taught me I will never forget. He taught me how to be a man and showed me how powerful love can be. I love him and I am extremely grateful for everything he did for me. The lessons he taught me will forever be apart of my life.

  7. Bobby DeFazio

    I never had a true hero until Mr. Burton came into my life. after my first year of camp i looked at life totally different and tried to live righteously as he did and have god at the center of my life. he is the most amazing person i have ever met and ever will meet. i thank god everyday that i had the relationship i had with him, he was an angel on earth. thank you Mr. B

  8. Joe Libby

    I am 66 yrs old and I rank Ron as one of the ten greatest people I have met in my lifetime. When God created Ron, he threw away the mold. Our region has sent young men to the training village, black/white, middle class/poor they all came back better persons.
    Joe Libby
    Fairfax, VA

  9. Gene Leahy

    I had the honor and priveledge of meeting Ron Burton at the Grand Opening of the Olymopic Bank AND TRUST on Congress St in Boston.
    He was a living legend in the sports community as well as the social community.
    He always talked about the dreams he had for young kids,
    He was always involved wheter at a football camp or going to a group of youngsters and explaining to them what a role model should be and how to become one
    Ron was all about kids.
    We need someone to carry his dreams
    We miss you Ron , bus Steve is doing a great job!
    God Bless

  10. Lisa Murawski-Dupont

    I met Ron as a fellow employee of John Hancock. I left in 2002 in order to go to the Iraq War. I returned home late 2004 and have just found out that Ron past away. Every time I saw Ron, he had something kind and inspiring to say. I believe it was 1999 when he first found out he had cancer but he still continued to smile through the pain and once again inspired us all. I gave Ron a football card of himself, he told me he had given all of his away to others and no longer had any. Ron had a beautiful soul and touched so many, the world is a lesser place without you.

  11. kayla

    I love you grandad and I will NEVER forget you!!!!!! I miss you soooooooo Much and yo be in my heart!!!….. Say hi to Nana, Pop Pop, and Jesus For me!!!
    ps. MY DAD IS DOING A GREAT JOB on the news and he and everyone else loves you!!!!

  12. dan marino

    i like everyone else who had the opertunity to meet RON BURTON SR have become a much better person. i love him for that and miss him very very much.
    love you ron burton
    dan marino

  13. Brendan

    I have known the Burton family for many years. I went to middle/high school with Paul. He still is a close friend of mine (he married my wife and I on October 14, 2006).
    Back in 1992, my mother died after a long and brutal battle with cancer. Times were hard. My father was nowhere to be found and I was marinating in a bleak world of pain and sorrow. Paul knew that I was suffering/having a difficult time with her death. He asked his father to speak to me about life in hopes that I would see the brighter side of things etc.
    I met with Ron Sr. a few times at his home in Framingham. He spoke to me about various things having to do with life and how to live it. “Never judge another man because you have never walked a step in his shoes,” is one of the many wise lessons he impressed upon me. However, the thing that has remained with me in regards to Ron Sr. is the fact that here was this incredibly busy man, yet he took time to meet with me. I am sure he had people pulling him in every direction. I am sure he would have rather spent time with Paul, but he took the time to reach out to me and let me know that he cared. Never had I met such a kind man in life (and still have not, although Paul and the rest of the Burton Clan are the finest people one could ever hope to know/meet).
    I saw a photograph of Ron Sr. today in Paul’s office. It got me to thinking about him. I could express endless adjectives to describe him, but classy seems appropriate. He was classy in the true sense of the word. He was the type of guy who didn’t have to speak to let you know that he was the real deal – a hero. Joanne and Ron Sr. raised five of the best people this earth has ever known. He was a man amongst men and I am blessed to have known him. I am truly blessed to still know and socialize with his family.
    God keep you Ron. I strive to be half the man you were.

  14. Ron Halterman

    I am a former camper of many years. Ron is the greatest man I ever had a chance to know. He has a positive influence on every person he meets. Selfless and unrelentingly positive, one could not help but feel inspired to be a better person just knowing him. I grew up in a bad circle, and without the camp and Mr. Burton’s influence, I know I would have sunk beneath many of the pressures that so many young men have to deal with.
    Thank you so much for everything you have done for me and so many others,
    Ronald Halterman

  15. Saheed Ibraheem

    Amazing is the only word that I can use to describe this man. He is indeed a person to admire, relish and cherish for the ones that were able to learn from him. I was fortunate enough to attend his camp for 8 years of my life. I cannot say enough about Mr. Burton. He and his camp had such an amazing influence on my life.
    It is hard to sit back and reflect on the lessons that I have learned. His camp was the most peaceful place that I have ever been, and he was the most peaceful person that I have ever met. He was an incredible man that only wanted to pass on a message that he was fortunate to receive. Thank Mr. Burton. God Bless.

  16. Mayron

    I until this day strive to be the teacher Mr. Burton was to many of us. His teachings still live with me today, 16 years after my days at the training village. God first, others second, me third….Mr. Burton Thank you for being such an inspiration in my life. I love you big guy….
    Mayron Ramirez

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