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Alton BurgessALTON BURGESS is a dedicated Sam Houston alumnus and has served his alma mater since his undergraduate days. As a member of the Alumni Association Board for over 25 years, he has been influential in many changes over the years, always keeping in mind the excellence of Sam Houston State and working diligently to recruit students from all parts of Texas.

Alton grew up on a northeast Texas farm, was graduated from high school at DeKalb in 1939, and attended East Texas State one year. He served a tour of duty with the Naval Air Corps during World War II from 1942 to 1945. He enrolled at Sam Houston State Teachers College in 1946 pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in vocational agriculture. As an undergraduate, Alton was a member of the Vocational Agriculture Club. Upon his graduation in 1948, he immediately began work in graduate studies, earning his Master's degree in 1950.

He taught Vocational Agriculture from July 1, 1948, to June 30, 1951 in Needville; from July 1, 1951, to November 1, 1952, in Gonzales; and from November, 1952, to March, 1957, in Alvin. In 1957, Arleigh B. Templeton, then superintendent of school in Alvin, stated that "Mr. Burgess is one of the outstanding ag teachers in the state. He is interested in the welfare of the youngsters and in the community as a whole.

In Alvin, Alton was active in many aspects of the community: he served on the Board of Directors and was Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce; he was Vice President for both the Alvin ISD and the Alvin Junior College Board of Trustees; he chaired the finance committee and was a trustee for the South Park Baptist Church; he served as president of the Lions Club; he was a member of the Youth Rodeo Association, the Brazoria County Fair Association, and the Galveston County Fair Association.

In 1958 Alton was graduated from the Institute of Insurance Marketing at Southern Methodist University and began his career in the insurance field. In 1969 he received his Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) degree from American College of Life Underwriters in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He has been with National Farm Life Insurance and was the recipient of the company's All Star Honor Roll Member for several years. He was elected National Farm Life's President's Star Salesman for 27 years and has received several honors in his profession: Top Producer for 1987; the President's Cabinet; for 33 consecutive years he has qualified for membership in the prestigious Million Dollar Round Table; 14 years, National Quality Award winner; 20 years, National Sales Achievement; and Texas Leaders Round Table. Alton is also a life and qualifying member of the Million Dollar Table with over $51 million of insurance in force.

While achieving prominence in his profession, Alton remained active with Sam Houston and the education of others. In 1975 he was given the Distinguished Service Award by the Texas Association of School Boards in recognition "of dedicated and unselfish service to improve public education and enhance the prestige, dignity and progress of the local boards of education of Texas." He has written over 500 personal letters to SHSU alumni in Northeast Texas for the purpose of recruiting students into the agriculture program, served as president of the Sam Houston Agriculture alumni in 1970, was instrumental in the establishment of the Willie Frank Hall Trust Fund for Ag-Education majors, assisted in placement of graduates by informing faculty of available positions, and for many years, has hosted a luncheon for SHSU Agricultural Education Student Teachers.

Alton has been married to Dorothy (Hall) for 49 years and they have two daughters Connie Robinson and Barbara McGee and five grandchildren. In 1975, he and Dorothy moved from Alvin to Huntsville where he has remained active in university and community activities. He was Vice President and board member of the Huntsville Lions Club and chaired the Radio Jamboree in 1990; he served as president of the University Heights Baptist Men's Brotherhood. As a life member of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, he has served on the FFA/4-H Swine Show Committee.

A colleague of Alton's says: "Alton Burgess is dedicated to Sam Houston State University. His love for Sam Houston is the primary reason he and Dorothy make Huntsville their home. He promotes Sam Houston as he literally travels the state of Texas. Alton has also found the time to be an active member of his community and his church. He is truly deserving of recognition as a Distinguished Alumnus."

As profiled at October 18, 1991 Distinguished Alumni Banquet

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