1879 - 1966
M. Burton “A Prince and a Great Man”
ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?"
(2 Sam. 3: 38.)
pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me." (2 Kings 2: 9.)
Andrew Mizell Burton was an
extraordinary man from every point of view. He lived in a fabulous era of
progress and development. He was a part of that era, and a factor in its
marvels. His life was a fulfillment of the American dream that any boy can rise
to the heights of success and achievement.
was born in very modest circumstances and was reared on a farm in Trousdale
County, Tennessee. His total formal education consisted of no more than twenty
months of schooling. As a lad, he worked in the tobacco fields for fifty cents a
walked a cow to Nashville-a distance of forty miles from his home-to provide
milk for a baby of a kinsman. In Nashville he secured work as a day laborer at
the Tennessee Centennial grounds for a dollar a day.
under these circumstances, he managed to save something of what he earned each
day. He got a job selling insurance in Nashville, and his excellent native
abilities soon brought him to the position of State Agent. When that company
went out of business, he decided to form a company of his own.
very thought of a poor country boy without formal education founding and
building an insurance company was amazing-and still is. He persuaded five
others, including among them Mrs. Helena Johnson, to invest with him, and
established the new company.
the years that followed, A. M. Burton achieved distinguished leadership in many
fields of endeavor and became nationally and internationally known and
appreciated. The business that he founded in 1903-the Life and Casualty
Insurance Company of Tennessee-and over which he presided as president for
forty-eight years is now one of the nation's largest and strongest insurance
firms with nearly three billion dollars of insurance in force.
was baptized at the Highland Avenue church of Christ in Nashville in 1910 by Matthew C. Cayce. His
growing interest in religion led him to make contributions to more than 1000
Churches of Christ throughout the world, and he was instrumental in the
establishment and development of Central church of Christ in downtown
little education himself, he became the chief inspiration and support of David
Lipscomb College and the Nashville Christian Institute and made personal
contributions to numerous educational institutions throughout the nation and
acts of benevolence included gifts to homes for orphans, for the aged, for the
sick, and for, many other related services to troubled humanity.
M. Burton had several special qualities, each of which would be rare, and in
combination would be found only once in an age. Among the qualities that stand
out in the memories of those who knew him best are these:
possessed the ability to see farther and clearer than other men. At the turn of
the century, he dreamed of building the Life and Casualty Insurance Company;
and more than twenty-five years before the Life and Casualty Tower was erected
he had a picture produced by an artist of what the building would look like. He
kept this picture on his desk through all those years.
plan for Central church of Christ included the daily use of radio-a new and
phenomenal means of communication at that time; and a church building open every
day to serve the poor through providing clothing, shelter, and other help where
needed. Through his leadership the church established a day home where working
mothers could leave their children, a home for working girls who had come to
Nashville as strangers in a large city, and a home for boys.
dreamed of Lipscomb's becoming a senior college at a time when its assets were
small and its enrollment in college a mere 200. His vision enabled him to see
that the boys coming back from the war would need to go to school and there
would not be enough schools to serve them. These dreams led to the establishment
of the Lipscomb Expansion Program and the subsequent growth of Lipscomb to a
fully developed senior college. These are only a few instances.
had many other dreams and plans which never reached the stage of fulfillment.
He often outlined plans for a hospital and for special services of many kinds
for the sick in body and mind, the crippled, the blind, and the unfortunate. He
dreamed of a major vocational school that would enable poor boys to receive an
education without cost by working half a day and going to school half a day.
for the poor-Unlike many men of wealth and power, A. M. Burton never lost the
common touch. Throughout his life he was deeply concerned about the poor,
the blind, the orphan, and the crippled. He had a special collection of the
Scriptures translated into Braille and made available without cost to the
often spoke of the fact that his success in business related back to the poor
and underprivileged people who were the first to buy policies in the Life and
Casualty Insurance Company. He had a genuine concern for the underprivileged,
regardless of the reason for their poverty, and often was heard to say that high
taxes were a blessing-a strange statement, in the eyes of many, for a man of
great wealth. In this connection, he liked to quote Leviticus 25:10,11:
"And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout
the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and
ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man
unto his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you."
was his philosophy that modern tax policies are necessary to accomplish the same
purpose as the Year of Jubilee.
A. M. Burton had moments when he was discouraged and fearful, as does every man,
his general spirit was optimistic. He believed in the adage, "It can be
done," no matter what it is. When changes became necessary, he was quick to
see and accept the new and the different, while retaining complete loyalty to
the eternal principles of righteousness. Among the mottoes he often repeated
was, "Nothing succeeds like success." No matter how vast or
complicated the undertaking, he believed it could be done and proceeded to do
A. M. Burton was best known for his generosity as a philanthropist. No one will
ever know the total amount of money which he gave away. He gave David Lipscomb
College more than any other Tennessean has ever given to anything. To him
giving was a privilege and a joy. He gave away millions as easily and naturally
as most men might hand a piece of change to a beggar in the street.
last gift he made was the establishment of a fund to be known as the A. M.
Burton-Marshall Keeble Scholarship Fund to help underprivileged young people. It
has been estimated that if he had kept all the wealth which came into his hands,
he would have died one of the nation's wealthiest men with more than
$100,000,000. Instead, he gave it all away and became richer still.
generosity was expressed in numerous little ways, as well as in the larger, more
monumental gifts. He liked to fill his pockets with tiny rosebuds and hand them
out to office workers and others whom he met along the way as he went by the
College or at the Life and Casualty Insurance Company.
he retired, he began raising chickens. It gave him much pleasure to give friends
who visited him from time to time a dozen eggs to take home with them.
last time Mrs. Pullias, Clay, Jr., and I went to see him, he had just come back
from the hospital. When we rose to leave, he took Mrs. Pullias by the arm and
led her out to a magnolia tree in the yard. With his own hands, he broke off a
high hanging blossom and handed it to her with a smile. This was typical of his
M. Burton had an unwavering faith in the wisdom of God. He came to believe
sincerely and often said, "God will show the way that will work out for the
best." In my very last conversation with him, only a few days before he
died, he told me:
am ready to go. God has been good to me. I do not have an ache or pain. I look
to the future without fear, or even anxiety."
the death of A. M. Burton, many have mentioned that some monument should be
prepared for him. This seems to me unnecessary. He built his own memorials,
which will stand as monuments of good works in his honor, to the good of
humanity, and to the glory of God through all the generations to come.
one approaches Nashville from any direction, the first building that comes
into view is the Life and Casualty Tower-a monument in the business world to
the memory of A. M. Burton.
one walks on the campus of David Lipscomb College all that he sees is a memorial
to the memory of this man. With the exception of the home of David Lipscomb,
which still stands, A. M. Burton had a vital part in the planning and
construction of every major building on the campus. The Lipscomb of today is for
him a dream come true.
downtown Nashville Central church of Christ is a memorial to him. The Nashville
Christian Institute is another monument in his honor, and lesser ones exist
all over the land and in distant lands in the form of the good which he did.
Harry R. Leathers of the Lipscomb Board of Directors paid this touching tribute
to him: "In the passing of A. M. Burton the cause of Christ has lost a
great leader-great, by the Bible definition-'But he that is greatest among you
shall be your servant.' During his long and useful life he did much to relieve
the poor, support Christian education, and advance the kingdom of God
throughout the world. I count it a joy and a blessing to have served with him
for more than twenty-five years on the Lipscomb Board of Directors. His faith,
vision, and humility were exceeded only by his liberality in giving to righteous
causes. Only eternity can measure his influence for good."
of his business associates said just before his funeral service, "When I
think of what would not
without A. M. Burton, I realize the debt owed to him by so many for so
long." The man who is now president of the Life and Casualty Insurance
Company, Guilford Dudley, Jr., expressed well what so many feel as they think of
A. M. Burton's life: "A. M. Burton has 'gone away.' Somehow or other even
though I was well aware that he was 87 years old on his last birthday, February
2, I always thought he would outlive us all. Somehow I think I was right and
though I was a pallbearer at his funeral, I still think he will outlive us all
. . . . Yes, I think he will outlive us all, for he was a truly great man, and
his good works will live after him."
trying to understand his full stature as a man, I would paraphrase the words
used to describe the incomparable Winston Churchill, "The oldest among us
has never seen his equal and the youngest among us will never live to see such a
behalf of a vast host of people who will always appreciate the life and work
of A. M. Burton, our prayers and best wishes reach out to Mrs. Burton, who
shared with him an abundant life for more than sixty years, and to every member
of the family in the loss of one so dear to so many.
-Athens Clay Pullias, Gospel
Advocate, Vol. CVIII, No. 43, October 27, 1966 - pages 673,679,680 - This
Tribute Article First Appeared On The Front Page Shortly After The Death Of
The Sunday Visitor - Vol. 6, 1941
The Sunday Visitor Was An Annual Compilation Of Lessons That A.M.
Would Bind To Give His Sunday AM Bible Class At The Close Of Each Year. He
Taught Adult Bible Classes At Central Church of Christ In Nashville
For Many Years
The Passing of Sister A.M. Burton Ends An Era
The burial of Mrs. Lillie Mae Armstrong Burton on Friday, March 6, 1981, was the ending of an era. She was 94 years of age and is survived by four children, nineteen grandchildren, thirty-nine great-grandchildren and thirteen great-greatgrandchildren. She was the mother of seven children. She died at Nashville's Parkview Hospital on Tuesday, March 3, at 11 :00 p.m.
Her husband, the late A. M. Burton, was one of the five founders of the Life & Casualty Insurance Company. Brother and Sister Burton made gifts estimated at more than twenty million dollars during their lifetime.
A. M. Burton was not a member of the church when he married Lillie Armstrong. Batsell Barrett Baxter spoke during Sister Burton's funeral service and related how she had told him of Brother Burton's conversion. After their marriage, he was not interested in church or attending with her. Sister Burton said, "I just kept asking about the church, and finally my grocery man told me where it was."
In describing the conversion of her husband, Baxter recalled during this service how instrumental Sister Burton was. She said he was baptized by C. M. Pullias who had been his boyhood friend when they were growing up near Hartsville, Tennessee.
Baxter recalled the following quote from Sister Burton: "I had never been able to get my husband to go to church with me. One Sunday they announced that C. M. Pullias would be preaching in a series of meetings. I went 'home and told my husband that his boyhood friend was going to preach, and he said that he was certainly going to go and hear him preach! He did, and on about the third night he was baptized. It wasn't long before he went to work for the Lord with the same intensity he worked at everything else."
Think of the influence of this good woman who helped lead her husband to Christ and think how many lives the two of them influenced!
David Lipscomb College was one of the main recipients of their wealth. The Burtons' help kept Lipscomb alive during many crises.
The Burtons gave their home and farm to the college so that Lipscomb might receive benefits for all the years to come. The farm was in Sister Burton's name, and she and Brother Burton wanted it to be used for the advancement of Christian education at David Lipscomb College.
Sister Burton loved Lipscomb. She loved young people. She believed that the Christian training of young people would really help determine the future of the church.
The Burtons loved the Lord's church. They were instrumental in beginning Central Church of Christ in Nashville in 1925. They worked at Highland Avenue first. After the death of Brother Burton, Sister Burton worked with the Hillsboro congregation.
They gave millions of dollars to advance the kingdom of God because they loved the Lord and his church.
The Burtons helped support Marshall Keeble for many years. They began the Nashville Christian Institute where Brother Keeble served as president. In this way many black preachers were trained, and the Burtons' support of Keeble led to the conversion of thousands.
Sister Burton loved Lakeshore Home for the Aged in Nashville. She was a member of the Board there, and was very liberal in her support of this work.
A. M. Burton came to Nashville at the age of eighteen armed with only twenty months of formal education in Trousdale County schools. He went from a day laborer to a leading insurance executive- having founded Life & Casualty in 1903.
Sister Burton was a native of Obion County and the daughter of the late John and Amanda Butler Armstrong. She was married to A. M. Burton in 1904, he died in 1966.
-Willard Collins, Gospel Advocate, April 2, 1981, page 206
To The Grave Of A.M. Burton
Woodlawn Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee, is located behind the 100
Oaks Shopping Center that faces I-65 just south of the I-440 Interchange. From
100 Oaks travel east on Thompson Lane and turn right at the first entrance to
Woodlawn's South Side Park (across from main part of cemetery). Take the first
left and road will bear around to the right. Stop the car around the trashcan
and look to your left. About mid-section of Lakeview is a tree. Go just about to
the tree and look to the left.
GPS: N 36º
06' 49.4" x WO 86º 45' 35.6"
or, D.d. 36.111017,-86.759879
Accuracy To Within 15ft
Grave Faces To The East
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A.M. Burton Plot In Foreground, A.G. Freed up the hill and to the left. Mack Wayne Craig the other side of the tree.
At the top of the hill and across the drive are the graves of the Wards, Hales, Brewers, Goodpasture & Boyce families.
Oct. 22, 1886
Mar. 3, 1981
Feb. 2, 1879
Aug. 1, 1966