Richard M. Burston ’49 died on July 17, 2018, in Brookline, Massachusetts.
(The following appeared online at the StamfordAdvocate):
Dick Burston, ninety-three, died peacefully on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, surrounded by his loving family. Dick was born in Brookline, Mass., on October 31, 1924 to the late Anita and Mark Burston where he spent his childhood with his late brother LeRoy Burston before moving to New York City as an adult. It was in NYC where he met the love of his life Phoebe Harvey Hopkins and made her his wife on August 29, 1958. Phoebe and Dick moved to Stamford, Connecticut where they raised their five children Abby, Seth, Joshua, Mark, and Amanda. He is survived by all his children (and their spouses), his wife Phoebe and fourteen grandchildren.
Dick graduated from Boston High School at age sixteen with the goal of attending a prep school. He had always lived for sports, excelling in football, ice hockey, and baseball and he wanted an opportunity to play some more. When his dad gave him a flat out “no” Dick decided to go for it anyway without the help of his parents. It was the first time in his life that he showed this type of initiative, but certainly not the last.
So in the fall of 1941, Dick was granted a sports scholarship to Kents Hill Prep School in Maine where he played his favorite sports while attending with his lifelong best friend, the late Bill Daugherty, who was there on a sports scholarship as well. After graduating from Kents Hill at age seventeen, and as the US was on the brink of entering into WWII, Dick enrolled in the Maine Maritime Academy earning the title of Naval Reserve Officer and serving in the South Pacific aboard the USS Alhena during the war, for which he will be honored at Arlington at a future date.
After the war, Dick attended Bowdoin College where he was captain of the baseball team and graduated after only two and a half years. He was then accepted at The Harvard Business School but was diagnosed with polio during his first semester. The virus attacked one of his legs and although the doctors told him he’d never walk again, Dick made up his mind to walk spending countless hours swimming and training his foot muscles to work. Undefeated, Dick returned to Harvard in the fall of 1950 and graduated with the class of ’52. He went on to be a self-made man and founder of three of his own successful businesses in the professional beauty industry.
Dick’s recovery from polio is a metaphor for his whole life. He approached all of life’s challenges with a winning mindset, never accepting the word “can’t.” Anyone who was lucky enough to know Dick gets it. He had a way of making people feel good about themselves with his humble manner, quiet intellect, and engaging spirit. He was a wonderful man, devoted husband, generous father with both his time and his assets, and seriously loved by all who met him. He also believed strongly in giving back as a civic volunteer, including several years as Little League President and on the Board of Trustees for two of his alma maters. With his big heart and warm smile he was known to his kids’ friends as Mr. B. Even though his presence was so big, he delighted in simple pleasures like a Red Sox game on TV, a sunset off his deck in Maine, fly-fishing on the Little Sou’west Miramichi, family gatherings, and a good Scotch.