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.
Burton has been known by several professional names, and nicknames, during his long and distinguished career. 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; 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 huge heart, while being compassionate, approachable, and generous. In addition to being industrious, knowledgeable, proficient, and fair-minded, more than anything, he is ready, eager, and capable to support 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 attends the Crossroads Baptist Church in Valdosta. 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 began and grew a small agricultural business, into a substantial venture. The family engaged in animal, and plant husbandry, as well as land development. They raised calves, dairy cows, broilers, and hogs, and grew corn, tobacco, peanuts, watermelons, hay, wheat, rye, and timber.
It was in this family, as son to an entrepreneur father and mother, that he learned to appreciate challenging work, frugality, dedication, and thoroughness in all things. Burton credits his parents and grandparents for instilling in him moral values, self-worth, and love of family.
Because the lessons which Burton learned on that farm, and from his family, have rung true 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 is unconditionally accepting of 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 member of the Speaker’s Bureau.
He graduated from bootcamp 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. During that time, 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 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 scholastic and extracurricular activities. He was Chairman of Judges’ Night and a member of Honors Moot Court, for four semesters. Burton’s team won a second-place award for oral advocacy during his first semester in 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, while he maintained a full load of classes, and simultaneously taught a course in Business for El Camino College. Burton passed the Georgia Bar Exam on his first try, becoming the first person in his law school class to become a licensed attorney.
In the fall of 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 rank of Full Professor, Business Administration. When he resigned in 1998 to engage in other professional pursuits, El Camino College awarded Burton an award 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, in addition to his teaching. In this capacity, he founded his own 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 resolute team. His practice assisted thousands of people with their personal and consumer injuries and civil injustices. Fletcher & Associates was known as an experienced and aggressive representative of its clients’ 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 member of the Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce. He was a leader and sub-committee chairperson on the Education Committee; the auditor for 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.”