James Burton, former ECA Executive Director, longtime Santa Fe Springs activist, former councilman, and school board member, died of heart complications on Jan. 2, 2019. He was 76.

He served as Executive Director of the Engineering Contractors’ Association from 2006 until his retirement in 2011 before that Jim served as the Executive Vice President of the Southern California Contractors Association (SCCA) from 1989 til 2005.

Burton moved to Santa Fe Springs in 1989 to take up his SCCA duties and became actively involved in community affairs.

A lengthy article in the Whittler Daily News detailed some of his activities. He served on the Little Lake City School District Board of Education from 1997-99 and then was appointed to the City Council from 1999 until 2001 when he lost his bid for a four-year term. He ran in 2007 for City Council but was unsuccessful.

Burton also was involved with Friends of the Library, the Miss Santa Fe Springs Scholarship Pageant and the then-Rio Hondo Symphony Association, including a stint as president of the latter organization.

“Jim was very outgoing,” said Santa Fe Springs Councilman Bill Rounds, who lived close to him. “He had a story for everything. He loved to sit down and talk to you.”

During his tenure on the council, Burton helped bring it into the 21st century; Rounds said: “He brought computers and laptops to the council.”

He was born in Warren, Ohio, and after graduating high school, Burton went into the U.S. Navy, where he served from 1960-64 in San Diego. While never a military pilot — he had a problem with his eyesight that left him ineligible — he later obtained a pilot’s license, and for 16 years, Jim served as a member of the San Diego Sheriff’s Aero Squadron, a search and rescue team.

Life After the Navy

After leaving the Navy, he was hired as an officer by the San Diego Police Department, working there from 1964-70.

“Service was always was important to him,” daughter, Amber Gauler of San Diego said. “He was in the Navy, he was a cop, on the school board and the City Council. Duty was a big part of his life.”

Burton is survived by his daughter Amber, sons Shonn Burton of Austin, Texas and Brian Burton of Santa Fe Springs, brother Al Burton of Youngstown, Ohio; and five grandchildren.