The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lost one of its more valiant and loving servants this week with the death of Elder Theodore Moyle Burton.
To recite Elder Burton's career as a noted teacher and scientist as well as an LDS general authority is to do more than just recite one man's impressive list of personal accomplishments.Rather, it is to recite the spiritual growth and increasing love and devotion that is a familiar pattern among those who spend their lives serving God by serving his children.
In the case of Elder Burton, his love was particularly strong for the people of Germany, where he spent many years, first as a missionary, then working for the U.S. government, and then for three years as mission president.
This experience provided the foundation for Elder Burton's subsequent practice of constantly seeking to understand the problems of the people of Europe and trying to help them. Enthusiastic in spreading the gospel, he perceptively suggested that if missionaries were successful in preaching the principles of salvation, political problems would eventually take care of themselves. He also was noted for urging Americans to become adept in a foreign language.
An emeritus member of the LDS First Quorum of the Seventy since last Sept. 30, Elder Burton has a long career of church work that included service as bishop, stake high councilor, stake high priest quorum president, missionary, mission president, managing director of the Genealogical Department, area supervisor for Central Europe and assistant to the Council of the Twelve.
His career as a chemist and teacher included stints as assistant bacteriologist with the Salt Lake Health Department, technical assistant to the U.S. Treasury in Austria and Germany, faculty member of Carbon College and Utah State University, chairman of the Utah section of the American Chemical Society and president of the USU chapter of the American Association of University Professors.
To Elder Burton's family and many friends, the Deseret News extends condolences at his passing together with gratitude not only for his long life of service but also for the inspiring example it provides others.