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By Jim Stewart
The poignant inscription on George Burt's recognition board succinctly distilled why residents and dignitaries were gathered to honor the master wood turner, teacher, book shop owner, craft show circuit artisan, and philanthropist at the King Township Municipal Centre recently.
The congenial 90-year-old's charitable contributions over decades of service to municipalities in King and Simcoe Region were evident to all attendees. Burt's philosophy – printed on a stylized poster that provided context to the proceedings – captured his spirit of community: “We are all dependent on each other and can't live and enjoy life without each other. Being involved and setting an example is an opportunity to motivate others to be givers.”
By all accounts delivered on that special afternoon, George Burt has been a significant giver over the nine decades he has graced us with his presence and presents. When asked about the best part of the reception in his honor, Burt replied jokingly, “When you get to be 90 years old, it's great to be anywhere.”
Burt was generous in his praise of the volunteers that he has worked with for the last seven decades and appreciated the public forum to thank so many: “It was nice to be able to thank the people who made this possible. All the great charitable organizations I've belonged to – every one of them has made a contribution through their actions and fundraising. Charity goes beyond reaching into your pocket.”
George Burt also thanked all the dignitaries gathered for their kind words and noted “the social importance of the fraternal brotherhoods – specifically, the Masons and Shriners – who raise $1 million daily worldwide for charitable causes.”
One of the many highlights of the town hall reception was the performance of teenage vocalist Vanessa Wang, who also sang at the 28th annual Police Appreciation Night in Concord in May. Wang's dulcet tones were on display in her delivery of “You are the Light” – a tribute to George Burt that was so moving that the honoree “wanted an encore.” Burt's wish for a second song was granted by the soulful songstress. The Grade 12 graduate from Richmond Hill delivered a brilliant rendition of John Lennon's fifty-two-year-old classic “Imagine” to close the reception in a meaningful manner. Vanessa knew her audience – as all great performers do.
Significant among the attendees were Mayor Steve Pellegrini and King-Vaughan MP Anna Roberts who lauded Burt's works of charity and his volunteer spirit. Mayor Pelligrini, an ardent advocate of volunteerism in King, spoke from the heart about Burt's significant contributions to community: “It's people like George Burt that make King beautiful.” The mayor extolled the virtues of volunteers like George Burt and praised the incredible charitable acts of the Schomberg Masonic Hall Union Lodge – the brotherhood to which Burt has actively belonged for over 50 years.
Member of Parliament Anna Roberts congratulated Burt for contributing so significantly to “the collective well-being” and was “honored to acknowledge citizens like George.”
Mike Foley, a neighbor and friend whose children were taught by Burt in his woodworking class, explained that “George has lived his life every day according to Benjamin Franklin's axiom ‘What good shall I do today?'” He also shared one of his Burt's favourite remarks that “‘Any deed is a good deed.'”
Foley praised Burt's active role in the Masonic Order and offered a meaningful anecdote to capture the Lodge's spirit of giving: “The brotherhood once raised $50,000 for a 14-year old deaf teenager at Sick Kids Hospital.” As a result of the brotherhood's charity drive spearheaded by George, “the teenager heard for the first time because of the local Masons' fundraising.”
Numerous charming stories were delivered during the afternoon reception to encapsulate a life that has clearly been well-lived. Representatives from the Township, the Art Society King, and St. Paul's United Church offered complimentary and complementary stories about the nonagenarian's positive impact on their respective organizations.
The 14th annual “Portraits of Giving” reception honored what one notable King Editor described as “a local legend.” King Township's appreciation of George Burt's legendary talents and generosity was evident.
Excerpt: The poignant inscription on George Burt’s recognition board succinctly distilled why residents and dignitaries were gathered to honor the master wood turner, teacher, book shop owner, craft show circuit artisan, and philanthropist at the King Township Municipal Centre recently.
Post date: 2023-07-19 10:46:43
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