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Sportfishing Society honors outdoor writer


With his salt-and-pepper beard, gray-streaked hair, full face, wooden pipe and denim shirt and jeans, Bill Burton looked like the author of "The Old Man and The Sea" while accepting a plaque from the Pasadena Sportfishing Society on Monday.

In fact, the title of that Ernest Hemingway book might perfectly describe the life of the 67-year-old fisherman from Stoney Creek and former Baltimore Sun outdoors writer.

The society invited Mr. Burton to speak at their monthly meeting on Valentine's Day, then surprised him with the plaque and a standing ovation by the 200 members in attendance.

"Over the years, the guy has done so daggone much," said George Bentz, president of the group. "It's something that's way overdue."

The plaque reads: "In appreciation to Bill Burton for all your years of service and your contribution to sportfishing in Maryland, from the Pasadena Sportfishing Society -- Here's wishing good fishing."

"That's what he put in the paper all the time, 'Here's wishing.' That's a quote from him," Mr. Bentz said.

Bill Burton came to The Sun in 1956 from the Anchorage Times in Alaska, where he worked as a general assignment reporter. He wrote The Sun's outdoors column until he retired two years ago.

"I had the best job on the paper," said Mr. Burton. "I went fishing, nobody told me what to do and they paid me very well."

Over the years, the veteran journalist has done fishing reports for WMAR-TV and radio stations around Baltimore.

He had a cable television show called "Bill Burton's Outdoor Magazine."

He still does reports for WYRE radio in Annapolis and has written free-lance articles and columns for Bay Magazine, Fishing and Hunting Journal and New Bay Times.

Mr. Burton has kept busy since his retirement, running a public relations firm called Bill Burton Enterprises. His clients are Wye River Seafood, Wye River Seasonings and the Ocean City Fishing Center.

He married his current wife, Lois, in 1967.

His daughter Heather, 22, graduated from University of Baltimore last year and his 21-year-old son, Joel, is "hopefully in his last year" as a senior at UMBC.

Four other daughters from a previous marriage went to school in Rhode Island.

During his years on the water, Mr. Burton met lots of people, some more famous than others.

"I met George Bush years ago and we sort of kept in touch," Mr. Burton said. "He was a reader of my column and when he saw I retired, his office called.

"He wanted to take me bass fishing on the Potomac, then we had lunch at the White House," Mr. Burton said.

"We spent the whole day together, from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. He's a great fisherman and a hell of a man."

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