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Burton A. Burton

Burton, Burton A.
Burton A. Burton, whose Casablanca Fan Company repopularized the ceiling fans, died last month on Orcas Island, Washington. He was 75 years old. Born on March 11, 1928, in Hollywood, California, Burton Alan Burton was an only child who grew up in nearby Pasadena and San Marino. His father, Roy, was a CPA; his mother, Zita, was one of the first female building contractors in the west. She bought property in Palm Springs and built homes on a street she named Burton Way. Burton attended Lake Elsinore Military Academy. He developed an interest in slot machines and gaming equipment at an early age. He acquired his first slot machine at the age of 12 and brought it home on the red car trolley, which ran in front of his family's home in San Marino. Burton was also very interested in photography and worked for a local paper as a news photographer before going into business with a partner in a small machine shop in El Monte. Burton married his wife, Marilyn, in March of 1962; his stepdaughter, Pam, was 10 years old at the time. The Burtons added two boys, Chris and Andrew, to their family in 1965 and 1966. They lived in San Gabriel, California, across the street from a man who had two live steam locomotives, train tracks in his yard, and a large model train collection. Burton was an ardent admirer and frequent guest. The seeds had been planted for Burton's eventual Mt. Baker Railroad on Orcas Island, Washington. Burton sold his business to his partner in 1969. Early in the 1970's, Burton took a trip to New Orleans, where he became fascinated by a belt-driven fan system located at Kolb's, a local restaurant. He took pictures with his Polaroid camera, returned to California and began the tinkering that lead to his first ceiling fan model. In 1973, Burton founded the Casablanca Fan Company. Burton rented a warehouse next to the old Pasadena train station for his office and showroom. He even installed old train whistles on the roof, which he tooted whenever the trains came by. Years later, after retiring to Orcas Island off the state of Washington, Burton put in his own railway, the Mt. Baker Railroad, and designed the train station after the Lake Elsinore station, which he had so many fond memories of. Burton A. Burton leaves his wife, Rose, whom he married in 1991, and his beloved sons, Andrew, of Carlsbad, CA, and Chris, of Sumner, WA; also his daughter-in-law, Tina; two grandchildren, Andrea and Robby, and his stepdaughter, Pam, of Agoura, CA.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on June 1, 2003
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