Executive Councilor Ray Burton has received Plymouth State University’s highest award for public service, only the third time the honor has been given in almost a decade.
The Henry W. Blair Award for Distinguished Public Service was created in 2004.
“It is for distinguished public service, it recognizes someone who has devoted – as Henry Blair did – a life to making the world better through strong public service,” PSU president Sara Jayne Steen said in an interview. “And, in that sense of course, Ray is the perfect candidate.”
In 1962 Burton graduated from Plymouth Teachers College, which evolved into what is now Plymouth State University.
The other two recipients of the award were former State Supreme Court Justice William Batchelder in 2009 and and educator Eugene Savage in 2012.
Blair (1834 – 1920) was a Campton native who fought in the Civil War, served in both the state House of Representatives and Senate.
He was also a United States Senator, serving as the chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor. He was an advocate of racial equality, giving women the vote and in 1894 he introduced an anti-lynching bill. He also worked with the NAACP when he was eighty-years-old.
Last month Burton, 74, said his kidney cancer had returned and he would not seek re-election for either Executive Council or Grafton County Commissioner.