As close as I was to my grandmother, Clayton Callaway Burton, I don’t recall ever quizzing her on her charitable concerns. I just knew that helping others out was something she and my grandfather, Edgar Burton, did as a matter of course. And as a matter of Christian faith.
Gran, who passed away in 2003, certainly was involved in the Toronto art scene. The Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Ballet of Canada, the Canadian Opera Company, the Toronto Symphony and many more organizations benefitted from her donations of both time and money. Papa, before his untimely death in 1968, appeared more interested in social concerns – he was heavily invested in the United Way, among other causes. He also worked alongside his father during WWII as “dollar a year men” on the Wartime Prices and Trade Board, for which they both were awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire).
Although they are now long gone, my grandparents left us all with a legacy that should never fade: Giving without expecting back, and a strong sense of duty to the greater good.
On a personal note, they also set an impossibly high bar for other couples. I can remember as a child feeling slightly de trop whenever they were in the same room together. Their deep love for each other permeated everything they did – from building their dream farmhouse near King City to nightly Gin Rummy games (at the time of his death, Papa “owed” Gran close to a half-million dollars in losses).
I did ask her once if she ever thought of remarrying. She replied simply: “No.” She didn’t have to explain.