Burton White
1930 - 2021
{ "" }
Share
Share Burton's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Burton David White
September 19, 1930 - February 14, 2021
Burton David White, 90, civil liberties advocate, journalist, labor organizer, mediator/arbitrator, friend and uncle, died Feb. 14 in Portland, OR of complications following a stroke. He was born Sept. 19, 1930 in Malden, MA to Louis White and Sara (Rosenberg) White.
After his service in the Army, Burton received both his BA and MA from Boston University and came to UC Berkeley to study for a PhD in Middle English. He played a leading role in the May, 1960 San Francisco demonstration against the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and the following year, as the head of Bay Area Student Committee for the Abolition of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (BASCAHUAC), led a nationwide tour of college campuses speaking out not only against the Committee but also their propaganda film, "Operation Abolition." In a comprehensive article, "Truth Leaps the Barricades," written for the 50th anniversary of the demonstration ( http://www.notinkansas.us/#Burton), he stressed that the demonstration and its tactics laid the groundwork for the UC Berkeley Free Speech Movement four years later.
In many ways one of a kind, Burton was a very private person and a man of strong principles. He joined the Public Affairs staff of Berkeley listener-sponsored radio station KPFA, covering the 1964 Free Speech Movement for the station. Many years later, while living in Oregon, Burton joined the KPFA Board from 2013 to 2016 and served as its Chair. Burton served as Director of Collective Bargaining for the California Nurses Assn., and after moving to Portland in 1979, as Director of Labor Relations for the Oregon Nurses Assn. and as adjunct faculty at the University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center (LERC). Beginning in 1987, he served as an arbitrator and mediator in many bargaining, grievance, discrimination and other employment disputes.
For more than a dozen years, Burton relished his two-miles-a day walk with his black lab mix, Reba, who was the light of his life. Even after her passing in 2017, he pursued his daily "Reba Memorial Walk," often running into her dog friends and their humans, and most likely extending his health and life with the exercise.
Burton's family life was as rich as his amazing career. He enjoyed his East Coast family visits, during which he shared his joie de vivre, his great life experiences, his wit and his wonderful sense of humor. Burton was a Bon Vivant; a connoisseur of fine wines, teas and, especially, good food and cooking.
Burton is predeceased by his brother Alan M. White (2017), and is survived by his nephews Mark, Steven and Larry White, their wives Pascale, Cathy, Cyndy and grand nephews and nieces Sasha, Benjamin, Andy, and Emily, along with many loving friends to whom he left the legacy of creating change through action, perseverance, nonviolent resolution and objective communication. We are all the better for having known him, and the world is emptier without him. The family dogs Mowgli and Zsa Zsa will miss his endless raucous games.
In lieu of flowers or cards, donations can be made to his favorite park, the Summerlake Dog Park,
Attention: Parks
In Memory of Burton White
City of Tigard
13125 SW Hall Blvd.
Tigard, OR 97223
A memorial service will be held early in the Fall 2021 by his family in the Boston area, interested parties can contact the family through the listing of this notice on Legacy.com






To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Feb. 17 to Feb. 21, 2021.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
15 entries
March 1, 2021
Burton was brilliant, friendly, open, inquisitive, energetic, and always devoted to working toward labor-management peace. We met through the Oregon Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA). Burton was very involved and instrumental in LERA for decades, and a few years ago, it honored him with a lifetime achievement award. Burton and I enjoyed many sushi lunches together, which inevitably included great conversations about politics, labor relations, the radio station in Berkeley where he volunteered for years, his dogs, and so much more.

He was a good friend. I'll miss both his smiling face and his serious "we've got to find a solution" face.
Bill Greer
Friend
February 26, 2021
I first met Burton on the opposite side of a bargaining table when I was the spokesperson for management and he for the union. He was smart, articulate, witty, sometimes infuriating, and always a man of his word. We learned to respect and trust each other even as we vigorously debated and disagreed about issues. Over time we became friends, and eventually colleagues as part of a small consulting group that focused on working jointly with management and labor to build relationships and solve problems. We enjoyed blending work and friendship over good food and wine. I am happy that he was a part of my life for many years and I will miss him.
Sally Newton
Friend
February 26, 2021
Since I received word of Burt's passing, it has been difficult to walk thru Summerlake Park and the Summerlake neighborhood and contend with the reality that my dog, Twain, and I will no longer have the pleasure and joy of bumping into Burt. My 95lb canine buddy is like a son to me, and I will always treasure and remember Burt's incredible kindness to him. Burt would always be there with a smile and a treat whenever he saw Twain, and Twain would get so excited that he would tug very hard on his leash to go to him. I was always concerned that my brickhouse of a dog might run him over, but Burt never seemed apprehensive. In fact, he often seemed quite amused by Twain's enthusiastically dragging me forward. Sometimes, Burt would chuckle and quip something like "you make him run." They truly lit up when they saw each other.

Twain and I also take frequent walks throughout the neighborhood and if Burt ever saw us while he was driving by, he would always pull over his car to give Twain a treat! It got to the point that if any car pulled over to any nearby curb, Twain would pause to see if it was his friend, Burt.

I lament that I didn't think to take a picture of Twain with his dear friend, and I also regret that I didn't get to talk to Burt much outside of shared politics. His biography revealed to me that we actually held a few elements of life experience in common.

Still, will always be grateful that our paths crossed. No doubt, Burt's spirit and presence will forever be felt deeply by both Twain and me. Summerlake simply won't be the same without him.
Godwin Carmona
Friend
February 23, 2021
Cluster of 50 Memorial Trees
Plant Memorial Trees
Sympathy Gift courtesy of
Dorothy Foley
February 22, 2021
I am so sorry to hear of Burton's passing. He and I were in touch only a few weeks ago about a cause he intended to take up next, but he said he wasn't feeling well. I wished him a speedy recovery, not knowing that was not going to happen.
While we met through our shared interest in labor and employment issues, Burton and I really bonded over many new restaurant experiences. I had looked forward to introducing him to a new one (which opened two weeks into the pandemic shutdown but has thrived anyway). We will have a take-out Thai feast in his honor from Sabiang Thai now, and one in the restaurant when we can.
RIP, Burton. You were a multi-faceted gem of a man.
Luella Nelson
Friend
February 21, 2021
Burt always offered a fine spirit of friendship mixed with wry wit. I shall miss him.
Ron Rasmussen
Friend
February 21, 2021
I am so sad to learn of Burt’s passing. I was looking for him at Summerlake Park last week to introduce him to my newly adopted rescue dog as she would have loved him. Give Reba a hug for me and look for your friend Gigi .
Barbara Knopp
Neighbor
February 21, 2021
For many years we had a daily date with Burt, 3:00 at Summer Lake Park to join him on his 2nd loop (mile) of the day, he had walked a loop in the morning. It was such a great time, there was a lot of laughter and very lively conversation, usually about politics and the news of the day. Burt had so much information and knowledge that he had acquired in his very full life. After his sweet, beloved dog Reba died in 2016 Burt said she was irreplaceable, but he continued his walks saying that just seeing and giving treats to the dogs at the park gave him joy, and he brought such joy to the dogs (somehow from great distances they knew he was coming, a true "dog whisperer"), and to their humans (his term). He was our dear and very witty friend. He had been quite the activist, which added much to our conversations. He was still working as and arbitrator, including as one of the three for the Port of Portland, he had only been slowed by the difficulty of travel caused by Covid. We will miss him so, our days are forever changed, but we will always have our great memories and he will forever be in our hearts.
Elaine and Steve Thompson, Dave, Laura,Shawn, Attu and Herky Alford, Kathy and Annie Hickey
Friend
February 21, 2021
This sad news explains why we did not meet Burt on our Summer Lake walks any longer. Every time we reached the lake our first thought was to look for Burt. Many Sundays, some week days, we would meet and stop for long, long chats. We even exchanged email addresses with the intent to meet at our house, but COVID stopped us. We knew Reba, the black lab. We heard many stories from Burt about his work, that he was so passionate about. I think he considered us among the “park” friends. We will miss him very much. Summer Lake will not be the same without the hope to meet Burt.
Maria Agoston
Friend
February 21, 2021
I am Lucky to have had such a good friend and helpful colleague. I will miss the lunch we were to have after Covid.
Jean Savage
Friend
February 19, 2021
Burt was a dear friend and never without a pocket full of treats for his Summerlake Park area dog friends. Dogs would sense him from a mile away and come running to sit obediently for his generous treats. He was a special person and went out of his way to make others feel special. He will be greatly missed by all but his memory will forever be a reminder of the importance of small acts of kindness.
Julie Padbury
Friend
February 19, 2021
Summer Lake won’t be the same with Burt. While we were mere acquaintances, both my dogs and I were always so happy to see Burts smiling face on our walks since moving here 7yrs ago. He made us feel like old friends and I gather anyone whose encountered him, even briefly, feels the same way. He had such a kind way about him. What a gift he was to this world and to this neighborhood. We should all strive to be much more like Burt.
-Summer Pierce
Summer Pierce
Acquaintance
February 19, 2021
Dog Whisperer Burt..

Your absence on the Summer Lake leaves us all, 2 and 4 leggeds, very sad. However we will cherish all of your touching memories you left us..give Reba a hug for us and until we met again...a fond farewell dear friend..It won't be the same without all you corny jokes..Rest peacefully..
Derek and Betty Storey
Friend
February 17, 2021
I am so sad to hear of Burt's passing. I'm his neighbor, Jen - I live directly across the street. For the last 27 years, he was a bright light in my family's life. My husband was Burt's landscaper for years and many a month, it was Burt's projects that meant we were able to pay our mortgage. Whether he was driving past, or going out to his mailbox, or going for his walk, he made sure I saw him and gave me a big smile and a kind wave. My day-to-day life will not be the same without this lovely man as my neighbor.
Jen Anderson
Neighbor
February 17, 2021
Steven White
Family
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences