MAURICE Burton, who built a successful partnership in the insurance business from a small venture in the back bedroom of his home, has died aged 83.
His roots were in the family baker’s business, but after finding himself as the “man from the Pru” collecting premium payments door-to-door for Prudential Insurance, he turned it into his career.
He was born in Leeds the eldest of three sons of Harry and Edith Burton, family bakers who had a shop trading as Harry Burton in Wordsworth Street, Burley Road, and later in Moortown. Their mother worked tirelessly to ensure that the boys were well catered for until she died from cancer when only 47.
He was educated St Simon’s Church of England School, Burley Road, and was a choir boy at St Simons Church. When he left school at 14 he joined the family business.
From 1947 to 1949, he served two years National Service in the Army Catering Corps.
Also in 1947, he met Jean Hill and they married four years later at Wrangthorne Church, Hyde Park, Leeds and had a daughter, Joy.
Although they separated in 1978, they remained close and very good friends.
In 2000 Mr Burton and Lorna, the widow of his best friend from school, became partners spending 12 very happy years together.
Mr Burton’s first venture into insurance came when he was 23 when he went round the Hyde Park district of the city collecting premiums door to door. Being driven indeed by a strong work ethic which never left him throughout his life, he soon became top sales man.
Insurance was to be his career as he joined and ascended the ladder with The Colonial Mutual Leeds, Clarkson Tiley and Hargreaves in Bradford and sister company Hargreaves Peak in Halifax.
In 1979, he resigned to start a new business venture with his friend and business partner Mike Hornsey – Mr Burton managing life insurance and Mr Hornsey general insurance.
It evolved from a back bedroom in Otley to become a hugely successful partnership with premises in Market Street, and later Gay Lane, Otley, trading as Burton Hornsey and Partners.
As Mr Burton’s retirement approached the company merged with Rhodes Booth Ramsbottom, in Ilkley. Having simply ‘always worked’, Mr Burton initially found it difficult to adapt to retirement, but did allow him time for his interests and hobbies.
He was an accomplished pianist and organist and had played at Blackpool Tower Ballroom.
His enthusiasm for the theatre, stage and film resulted in a collection of many autographs of stars from the 1940’s onwards, including Al Jolson, Rita Hayworth, Bob Hope and all with personal messages to him.
He was chairman of governors at Shire Oak School, Headingley, from 1967 to 1972 and was for many years chairman of Otley Businessmen’s Luncheon Club continuing well into retirement.
He was also a social member of Otley Golf Club
He is survived by his partner Lorna, daughter Joy, son in law Nick, granddaughters Louise and Eleanor, and his brother Donald. The youngest of his brothers, Norman, predeceased him.