Volume XVII, Issue 35 # August 27 - September 2, 2009

from the Editor

Honor Bill Burton’s Memory and Please His Spirit

Get close and cozy with the Chesapeake

If I have any legacy to leave, it is my love of the Chesapeake,” wrote Bill Burton in his last message. “To honor my memory and to please my spirit, please keep that love alive.”

Those are inspiring words because they give us direction on how we can reach beyond the doors of death to keep a compact with our old friend. We must carry Bill’s love in our own hands and hearts to keep it alive.

Having read Burton’s words on the program at his memorial service on August 22, Bill Lambrecht, my husband, took a party of friends fishing the next day. Last night he cooked us a feast of bluefish, a fish he, in the tradition of Blues’ author John Hersey, considers underrated.

Burton’s words are in my heart and mind, too. In this week’s paper, I’m bringing you stories — and ideas — to inspire you to honor Bill Burton’s memory and please his spirit.

You’ll read about people who, like him, make their living on the Bay and its tributaries, the pleasures they find in their work and the sustainable ways they’re pioneering to keep our waters healthy and productive.

Reading is good inspiration, but doing is even better. So I’m pointing you to some ways you can get closer to the Chesapeake Bill loved.

Tasting the Bay is a sure way. Upcoming weeks bring you that opportunity in a pair of season-marking seafood festivals, one new and one old.

August 30 bring us the Second Annual Seafood Festival to benefit The Chesapeake Bay Foundation by raising money and awareness of our most valuable resource. The Rockfish promises to make it easy to fall in love: plenty of food, live music, lots of fun and a good cause. (noon to 5pm at 400 Sixth St., Eastport with $5 — larger donations welcome; kids 12 and under free — admission going directly to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation).

Then on September 11 to 13, the 42nd Annual Maryland Seafood Festival returns to nurture your love of the Bay with Maryland seafood, complemented with music and family fun. (Sandy Point State Park, Annapolis; $10. www.mdseafoodfestival.com.)

Be there, and you’ll be keeping Bill Burton’s love alive.

Much as Burton loved eating — and good as it is for reaching your heart through your stomach — he may have loved fishing even more. He knew that not everybody — including the very young and very old — could boat their way to fish; indeed, he never owned more than a small boat, and none in the past 20 years. So he was a great friend and champion of fishing piers.

You’ll honor his memory and please his spirit in his favorite way by fishing on one of the two piers that will soon bear his name.

But for his lobbying, the Choptank River Fishing Pier on the Eastern Shore would have been demolished after the new Rt. 50 bridge across the Choptank opened two decades ago. That pier took Burton’s name earlier this summer (http://www.bayweekly.com/old-site/year09/issue_31/dock.html), and he was pushed in a wheelchair out to fish from it.

Even if you don’t use a wheelchair, it’s a long pier, so bring a wagon for your tackle, a chair and an umbrella — plus your favorite refreshments.

On September 19, the 380-foot-long fishing pier at Fort Smallwood Park, near the Burton home in Pasadena, will be added to his legacy. Burton served on the master plan committee for Fort Smallwood Park and the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Park, just down the road.

“He pretty much adopted us, fell in love with the park and all we had done to turn it from the dump it was when owned by the city of Baltimore,” John Marshall, chief of operations at Anne Arundel County parks, told me.

“When we cut the ribbon on the pier overlooking the Patapasco River, we put him in a golf cart and drove him around.”

Burton won’t see this one named in his honor. But you can. The ribbon cutting is 8:30am on September 19, followed by the Annual Bill Burton Kids Fishing Derby, sponsored by the Pasadena Sports Fishing Association, which will be giving out 300 rods and reels that day to get kids fishing.

       Sandra Olivetti Martin

     editor and publisher