Prof. Rufus Burton Fletcher, Jr., J.D., MBA (Ret.) of Valdosta, Georgia, was born on December 25, 1950, in Ocala, Florida, was raised in McAlpin, Florida, and later lived in Lake City and Pensacola, Florida, as well as Fullerton, California. After that, he was a long-time resident of Torrance, California, before relocating to Valdosta, Georgia, in 2004.
During his long and distinguished career, Burton has been known by several professional names and nicknames. While his preferred name is Burton, many have chosen such endearing names as Rufus, Burt, Fletch, Fletcher, Corporal Fletcher, Teeth (because of his big smile), Mr. Burton, Mr. Fletcher, Burton Fletcher, Esq., Counselor, Dr. Fletcher, Professor Burton, and Professor Fletcher.
Burton has done his best to be a wonderful son, brother, uncle, and great uncle. He has served as a notable example to his loved ones through his career and community service and is treasured by his relatives. Loyal to his family and friends, Burton cherishes his extended family, home, wildlife, and pets, considering the latter to be members of his family. He enjoys sharing photos of his pet pals.
Possessing numerous gifts and an infectious spirit for life, Burton became an award-winning student, educator, lawyer, and community leader, for which perfectionism and professionalism have been mile markers along the way in his life’s pursuits. His spirit is a rare combination of formal introversion mixed with personal vivaciousness, gregariousness, and bravery. He is a kind and honest person who possesses a vast heart while being compassionate, approachable, and generous. In addition to being dynamic, knowledgeable, proficient, and fair-minded, more than anything, he is ready, eager, and capable of supporting others. He is kind in heart and incredibly trustworthy; his word is his bond.
Burton loves the Lord and shares his Christian faith by consistently striving to lend a helping hand and “never meeting a stranger.” He was baptized in his youth by the McAlpin Advent Christian Church; then, in later life, he is an active parishioner at Crossroads Baptist Church in Valdosta, Georgia. He is honored to affiliate himself with his prayer warriors, and obedient crusaders for Christ, for he loves his church family.
Burton was reared in a hardworking farm family. Headquartered next to the McAlpin Advent Christian Church in Suwannee County of North Florida, his family grew a small agricultural business into a million-dollar venture. The family engaged in animal and plant farming and land development. They raised calves, dairy cows, broilers, and hogs and grew corn, tobacco, peanuts, watermelons, hay, wheat, rye, and timber.
As a son to an entrepreneur father and mother in this family, he learned to appreciate challenging work, frugality, dedication, and thoroughness in all things. Burton credits his parents and grandparents for instilling moral values, self-worth, and family love.
Because the lessons Burton learned on that farm and his family have rung faithfully to him throughout his life, he has been a member, volunteer, supporter, and benefactor, of numerous endeavors throughout his lifetime. He gives freely of his time and unconditionally accepts everyone he loves.
Burton commenced his education at McAlpin Elementary School and graduated from Suwannee High School in Live Oak, Florida, in 1968. He attended Lake City Junior College & Forest Ranger School (now Florida Gateway College), graduating in 1970 with an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Arts. While at Lake City Junior College & Forest Ranger School, Burton was president of the local chapter of Circle K International, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club. He was a Senator and President Pro Tempore of the Student Senate and the Speaker’s Bureau.
He graduated from boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, where he adopted the United States Marine Corps values of honor, courage, and commitment. Burton served honorably for three years (1970-1973) in the Marine Corps, rising to the rank of Corporal in the Vietnam Era. He still considers his service in the military to have been one of his highest honors. He was trained at Fort Gordon, Georgia, as a military police officer and served as a patrol officer at Camp Pendleton, California. While conducting that role, he provided security to President Richard M. Nixon and other dignitaries.
After receiving an Honorable Discharge from the Marine Corps, Burton continued his education, and in 1975 received a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing, with honors, from The University of West Florida. While there, Burton served as Chancellor of Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity.
Burton was president of the Florida Sigma Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon social fraternity and secretary and board member of the Florida Sigma House Corporation as a student at The University of West Florida. In 2008, the Greater Pensacola Area Sigma Alpha Epsilon Alumni Association awarded Burton the coveted and prestigious “Order of the Lion” title for “continued leadership, dedication and loyal service to the Fraternity.”
In 1976, Burton received an MBA degree in Business Administration from The University of West Florida. Four years later, he received his Juris Doctor degree, with honors, from Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, California.
During law school, Burton began his legal career as a Certified Law Clerk working for the District Attorney’s Office in Fullerton Municipal Court, a demanding role made more so by the pressures of law school. He taught business and law courses for Lake City Community College in Florida (now Florida Gateway College) during two summers of his law school career.
Burton thrived in law school, graduating with distinction in academic and extracurricular activities. He was Chairman of Judges’ Night and a member of Honors Moot Court. Burton’s team won a second-place award for oral advocacy during his first semester in the Honors Moot Court competition. During his last three semesters of law school, he served as the Director of Honors Moot Court and oversaw an award-winning program. Furthermore, he was a member of the editorial board of the Western State University College of Law – Law Review.
In 1980 during his last semester of law school, Burton took the Georgia Bar Exam. He maintained a whole load of classes and simultaneously taught a course in Business for El Camino College. On his first try, Burton passed the Georgia Bar Exam, becoming the first person in his law school class to become a licensed attorney.
In 1980, Burton commenced full-time employment as a classroom instructor for El Camino College in Torrance, California, where he taught for 18 years (1980-1998). He was a tenured and credentialed instructor in Management, Marketing, and Law. The Academic Senate awarded him the ranks of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and the preeminent position of Full Professor, Business Administration. When he resigned in 1998 to engage in other professional pursuits, El Camino College awarded Burton a plaque with the inscription: “In Recognition For 18 Years of Meritorious Service, Dr. Burton Fletcher, 1980-1998.”
Burton passed the California Bar Exam in 1981 and thus began an ongoing career in law and civil litigation along with his teaching. In this capacity, he founded his general practice firm in 1982, specializing in litigation, using the DBA of Fletcher & Associates. At its zenith, the firm employed 15 attorneys and staff. Burton was blessed with a remarkable and committed team. His practice assisted thousands of people with personal and consumer injuries and civil injustices. Fletcher & Associates was an experienced and aggressive representative of its client’s interests, with an excellent record for serving others.
In 1992, Burton was an ambassador with a Torrance delegation that visited its Sister City, Kashiwa, Japan. He was a graduate, advisor, and photographer in the Leadership Torrance program and an award-winning Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce member. He was a leader and sub-committee chairperson on the Education Committee. He was the auditor of the Miss Torrance Pageant, a member of Torrance Rotary, and a Paul Harris Fellow. Burton ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Torrance City Council in 1992 and 1994 but lost by a mere 114 votes in 1994.
Please continue reading about Burton’s life by reading “A Tribute to the Life of Prof. Burton Fletcher, Part Two.”