Franchot commends Dorchester citizens

CAMBRIDGE – Maryland State Comptoller Peter Franchot visited the Eastern Shore on Monday, where he recognized and commended the Dorchester Family YMCA and Brian Burton of Thomas Funeral Home in Cambridge, and the Talbot County Business Center in Easton.

His first stop was at the YMCA, where he was met by members of the board of directors and local supporters of the facility. He praised the work done at the Y to build community through health and fitness, saying, “It does so much with so little money.”

He also made special mention of Chairman of the Robbins Foundation Leonard Foxwell and his wife Janice. The foundation is the biggest private donor to the facility.

“Everyone knows how important the Y is to the community, but it has to be solvent,” Mr. Franchot said.

The YMCA will be renamed later this year, as the Robbins Family YMCA. The pool building is already called the Pauline F. and W. David Robbins Aquatics Center.

Branch Executive Missy Denault said, “We’re trying to make it bigger and better.”

Board Member Lee Grier said, “We’re working on a mission.”

After touring the YMCA, Mr. Franchot visited Thomas Funeral Home, where he presented the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award for Dorchester County to Brian Burton.

Mr. Burton is co-owner and supervising mortician at Thomas Funeral Home, a family-owned business that has served Cambridge and the surrounding area since 1936. He joined the business in 2003, and since then has built a reputation for compassion.

His caring nature explains the full house of government officials, family and friends who attended the ceremony to honor Mr. Burton. Kenny Thomas retired several years ago from the business he ran with his brother before his sudden death in 2011. “I only wish my brother John could be here today,” he told the dozens of guests.

Mr. Thomas said a funeral director should possess qualities including compassion, understanding, enthusiasm for his profession and a willingness to listen. “Brian possesses all these characteristics to a great degree,” Mr. Thomas said.

He read quotes from a survey, in which clients described the dedication of Mr. Burton. “It takes a certain person to do what he does,” one said. “I would not have been able to cope with this loss without Brian,” another wrote.

Mr. Franchot said, “Brian really represents the legacy of William Donald Schaefer,” noting that the former governor lived and worked by two maxims: Do it now, and care.

“Brian Burton, thank you for caring,” he said. “You embody the altruistic motives of the William Donald Schaefer Award.”

After the tributes, Mr. Burton went to the podium.

“I’m very humbled,” he said. “It’s a blessing that the Lord has given me a calling.”

As he began to thank his wife Jennifer for her support, Mr. Burton was overcome with emotion and had to pause for a moment. When he continued, he said, “We do what we have to do, we leave our meals, leave our families.”

Though he said he missed time with his loved ones due to the needs of the bereaved, he said, “It’s an honor to serve your families.”
His friend and colleague David Salmon said, “I think we can all agree, the world could use more Brian Burtons.”

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at

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