Fort Mill Times

Former York County Councilman Tom Burton of Lake Wylie was ‘statesman’

Former York County Councilman Tom Burton in 1993.
Former York County Councilman Tom Burton in 1993. Herald file

Former York County Council member Tom Burton of Lake Wylie died Thursday night. He was 81.

Burton, who lived in the River Hills area, served on the county panel from 1995 to 2002.

“He was a terrific representative for his district,” said former County Council chairman Buddy Motz. “He served at a time that political parties didn’t drive the council’s decisions.”

Motz said Burton was very concerned about growth, which was beginning to affect the Lake Wylie area. He said Burton was on the council when the first round of Pennies for Progress road improvement projects began after voters approved the program in 1997.

“He was concerned about the environment, and he supported zoning as a way to manage growth,” Motz said.

Motz said Burton was a level-headed leader. “He never got angry. He never raised his voice. He was just, I guess you would say, a statesman at the local level.”

Motz, who was elected in 1998, said Burton helped him get acclimated to the leadership role. “He was a good mentor, because he was on there when I got on there,” he said. “He was helpful in giving me some advice, and showing me the ropes.”

Former council member Curwood Chappell, who served on the council for 22 years, also remembered Burton.

“He was a good husband, a good council member and a guy that you couldn’t help but like,” said Chappell.

“You could confront him with anything, he would listen,” Chappell said. “He always seemed to be interested in the well-being of the York County citizens. It will be a loss to the community and state.”

Ernest Cogdell, who lives in York, said he knew Burton and his wife, Jayne, for more than 30 years. Cogdell said Burton gave him his first job at 15, when he and his wife were opening a gift shop in Lake Wylie, called the Sassy Duck.

Cogdell said he worked for Burton on and off during his teen years.

“Mr. Burton was very easygoing, very soft-spoken,” Cogdell said. “He was not very demonstrative, but he was the type of guy you immediately trusted. You felt he was someone you could confide in.”

“He is going to be a great loss to the community,” Cogdell said. “He did a lot for York County.”

Burton, who worked as a partner at Piedmont Floor Covering Inc. in Charlotte, graduated from Loyola College in Baltimore. He held other local leadership roles, serving on the York County Economic Development board and as chairman of the Western York County Water and Sewer District, called Water West.

He also served as president of the Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce and of the Lake Wylie Marine Committee, which later became the marine commission. He was a member of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Lake Wylie.

Funeral information had not been announced as of Friday afternoon.

Jennifer Becknell •  803-329-4077