CLEARWATER - Burton C. Easton, who served as a Pinellas County judge for more than 25 years, died Monday (June 23, 2003) in Mease Dunedin Hospital. He was 80.
Mr. Easton, who had been living at an assisted living facility, was taken to the hospital Sunday after a fall.
"I think he just ran out of gas," said his son, Doug Easton.
Mr. Easton worked in newspapers and construction before he decided to attend the Stetson College of Law at age 41. He graduated three years later. He worked as an attorney for about 10 years before becoming a judge in 1975.
In a candidacy biography he filled out for the St. Petersburg Times, Mr. Easton wrote: "I will stress the objective that every person appearing before me, whether for traffic offenses, criminal matters or civil matters, leave court feeling that he or she has been exposed to a judicial process insuring full, fair, impartial and considerate treatment, and that even if ruled against, that each person leave court with respect for and appreciation of our judicial system."
Mr. Easton remained on the bench even after his retirement, serving as a senior judge and filling in for vacationing judges. He had not been on the bench since his health began declining.
"I thought Burt was a real human judge," said Pasco Circuit Judge Stanley Mills, who knew Mr. Easton for 31 years. "Oh, he might kind of grunt and growl a little bit, but I thought he was pretty realistic. He understood people, I think, really well."
Mr. Easton had received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio University in 1947, then worked for the Athens Messenger in Ohio. He also served in the Army from 1942 to 1945.
He later entered construction, then law. He served as chairman of the Criminal Law Committee of the Clearwater Bar.
"He was a very fair and understanding judge," his son said. "He was very well-respected amongst his peers. Going to law school at that age is a pretty incredible feat, and it all took off from there."
Born in New York, Mr. Easton came to Clearwater in 1943. He served in the Army in World War II. He was a member of the Knights of Phythias, Sigma Delta Chi, Delta Theta Phi, the Florida Bar Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the U.S. Power Squadron.
He is survived by two sons, Douglas of Tarpon Springs and Steven of St. Petersburg; a daughter, Deborah Eisenstatdt, Tampa; a brother, Elmer of Pacific Palisades, Calif.; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Clearwater Funeral Homes is in charge of arrangements.