By Pat Burton
I am writing to honor my father, J. Byron Burton, a long time hearing industry professional, who passed January 30, 2010. In briefly telling his story, I hope that many people who remember him, and even those that don’t, will be inspired to continue in the quest to help individuals with hearing loss, something he truly loved.
Byron Burton spent the beginning of his life commercial fishing. Around 1950, when he married and had children, he entered the hearing aid industry with his father who worked for Beltone as a sales manager. Some years spent with Beltone were followed by his ownership of several franchise offices. His success in the industry led him to becoming the first president of Siemens Hearing Instruments in the United States from 1966 to 1968 before briefly going into manufacturing on his own.
Soon after, he and his wife Marianne bought a small hearing aid office in Santa Ana, Calif, which he grew to become a very successful practice. I had the pleasure of working with him at Burton Associates for many years and being witness to some of his many successes — one of which included being the first person chosen to fit President Ronald Reagan. He was also appointed to the state board of medical quality assurance in California by Gov. George Deukmejian and was responsible for writing some of the original tests for hearing aid dispensing.
My father also helped bring the audiology and hearing dispensing communities together. Each year for a number of years, he hosted Thanksgiving parties in his rustic cabin in Idyllwild. By hosting these parties, he was able to blend his passion for fishing and the outdoors and would cook huge amounts for a large crowd of industry people. I was just a teenager at the time but got to know many great people in the industry. It was one of the things that enticed me to join the ranks as well. He truly loved the industry and would do anything to promote it.
In retirement he continued to help people as he could by collecting old hearing instruments and donating them to friends and neighbors in his community.
J. Byron Burton is survived by his wife, Marianne, and his sons, John, Dan, and me. He will undoubtedly be missed by many.