The Glendale community is mourning the loss of Cameron Willia Hali Burton, daughter of retired local obstetrician Dr. Carol Ann Burton and Alasdair John Hunter Burton.
Cameron Burton, 25, died in an automobile accident on March 20 in Malawi, a country in southeast Africa, while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer.
Providing philanthropic service is a family tradition. Her mother has served in leadership positions with the YWCA and Soroptimist International of Glendale.
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Cameron Burton was born at Glendale Adventist Medical Center and was delivered by her mother's business partner, Dr. Shirley Chan. She attended kindergarten through sixth grade at Campbell Hall in North Hollywood and seventh through 12th grades at Marlborough School in Hancock Park.
She and her three sisters were all swimmers. At Marlborough, Cameron Burton competed on the swim team and played water polo.
An avid reader, she was a huge fan of the Harry Potter series. She wrote for the school newspaper and initially thought she would follow a career as a writer or editor.
Cameron Burton was a free spirit, her mother said. She was the fourth of the siblings who went through the National Charity League philanthropic program. But while the first three girls achieved the top volunteer hours award, Cameron Burton performed just the required hours.
Above all, she loved working with children. Summers during high school were spent volunteering as a YWCA camp counselor, and, when she started college, she was hired to help the director run the camp during her summer breaks.
Cameron Burton enjoyed volunteering at the Los Angeles Zoo and at Twelve Oaks Lodge senior retirement facility.
But her favorite volunteer job was performing cuddle therapy for babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Glendale Adventist. Volunteers often held and rocked the babies in between parent visits after their mothers had been discharged.
Family friends have told her mom how Cameron Burton brought them out of their shell. Her dynamic personality and infectious laugh are things they said they will always remember.
She also was close with her siblings and was the common thread that tied them together, her mom said.
A memorial service was held on March 31 at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Glendale. Presiding over the ceremony was the Rev. Canon Mark A. Weitzel of St. Mark's, assisted by Cameron Burton’s uncle Bob Richard.
Cameron Burton’s ashes are buried in the church Memorial Garden. City, state and national leaders have acknowledged Cameron Burton’s passing over the last few weeks.
Mayor Paula Devine ended a Tuesday night City Council meeting in her honor. State Assemblywoman Laura Friedman closed a recent Assembly session in her honor and talked about her accomplishments.
Rep. Adam Schiff left a message of condolence on the family’s home phone. Letters of condolence were sent by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Donald Trump — surprisingly signed in his own handwriting, Carol Ann Burton said.
When Cameron Burton applied to the Peace Corps, she wrote in her aspiration statement that her easygoing outlook on life would help her thrive as a volunteer.
“Being patient is a vital strategy to use when interacting with anyone, but especially when dealing with people whose culture differs from my own,” she stated.
With the Peace Corps, Cameron Burton worked at a local health center helping her community address concerns around malaria and ending preventable child and maternal deaths.
She graduated cum laude from Tulane University with a bachelor’s degree in public health and continued her studies at Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, receiving a master’s degree in public health in 2015.
Before her Peace Corps service, Cameron Burtonvolunteered building homes with Habitat for Humanity, gave swimming lessons to low-income families, worked with children and their families in New Orleans’ Children’s Hospital, created outreach materials for NOAIDS Taskforce and conducted surveys for an organization focused on improving birth outcomes in New Orleans.
In addition to her parents, she is survived by her three sisters, Caitriana Elizabeth Mary Ahluwalia, Alexandra Donat Macphail Burton and Gillian Lucy Anne Burton; her brother-in-law, Pranay Ahluwalia, and niece, Isobel Ahluwalia.
“She packed more in her 25 years than many others who have lived a lot longer,” her mother said.
JOYCE RUDOLPH can be reached at email@example.com.
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