FALMOUTH, MA - Joanne Slade Fitz Burton (Fifi) passed peacefully on Wednesday, February 28, 2018, surrounded with the love of her family.
She was born in Salem, Mass., July 14, 1924, the daughter of Dorothy and David Fitz, great-granddaughter of David Slade, who was the founder of D & L Slade Spice Company of Chelsea, Mass., which was known as New England's oldest spice company. She was also the granddaughter of Judge Francis Fitz, and Adeline Frances Fitz, who was past president of Daughters of the Revolution. Her great uncles Foster Hannaford and Charles Mellen were active in management and development of the Burlington Northern Railroad. Fifi lived in Wakefield, Mass., until age 17. She graduated from Wakefield High School, Roger's Hall for Girls in Lowell, Mass. In 1943 upon the death of her father she moved with her mother to Pasadena, California, where she worked as a medical assistant. In 1944 she enlisted in the U.S. Navy WAVES and served for two years at the Bremerton Naval Hospital as corpsman. Her patients were servicemen returning from the South Pacific suffering from what was then called battle fatigue. After her time with the navy, she attended Pasadena City College on the G.I. Bill and graduated in 1948 when she hoped to pursue a career in radio and television.
"A self-proclaimed diletante," Fifi dabbled in many interests, all of the arts, music, journalism, and theater. Married in 1951 to Rollin "Jim" Burton, they raised five children in Chatham, N.J. During that time she was a member of the Chatham Emergency Squad and a Red Cross First Aid Instructor. Always a busy lady, Fifi managed during their 28 years in Chatham to be a director, actor, and songwriter with Chatham Community Players, full-time realtor, owner of a tennis and golf shop, and a columnist for a Chatham newspaper. One of her favorite assignments was covering the 1980 Olympics at Lake Placid. She and Jim were also involved with the Fresh Air Fund and welcomed needy children from New York City at their Chatham home.
Among her other contributions include writing television and radio commercials for Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn Advertising Agency NYC, columns and articles for Palm Springs Desert News, Pasadena Star News, Chatham Courier, N.J., the Cape Cod Times, Falmouth Enterprise, and Inside Cape Cod magazine.
In 1982, she and Jim moved year-round to Menauhant, East Falmouth, a beloved community where she had spent her childhood. She continued here as a realtor with Menauhant Real Estate. She contributed to her community of Falmouth through committees which include Falmouth Christmas Parade, Falmouth Road Race Wheelchair Board, Falmouth 1986 Tricentennial, Hospital Auxiliary, VNA Board, Substance Abuse Committee. She was one of the founders of Friends of Falmouth Dogs, past president of the Samaritans, and a member of Falmouth Artist Guild, Otis Civilian Advisory Council Life Member, Falmouth Service Center, Emergency Preparedness Committee, FCTV Board Directors and a member of Menauhant Yacht Club. In 1995, she received Woman of the Year Award by Falmouth Business and Professional Women's Organization. In 2016 she received the OCAC Award from Cape Cod Military Support Foundation for over 30 years of service.
Homebound in her nineties, she relieved any boredom by knitting lots of scarves, mittens, etc., for the needy children at the service center and the Joint Base of Cape Cod. Fifi was predeceased by husband Jim in 2012, and sister Virginia Fuller. She leaves behind Jeffrey and Joan Burton, David and Lucy Burton, Timothy Burton, Michael and Janice Burton, Sharon Burton; and six grandchildren, Jessica Kathryn, James, Mackenzie, Quinn and Erica. She also leaves behind several beloved nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at the Grace Memorial Chapel in Menauhant on June 16, 2018, at 11 a.m. where her godfather Dean Hugh Moor was the first minister. It is no surprise the service was prepared by Fifi herself years ago.
In lieu of flowers, a contribution to one of Fifi's favorite charitable causes would be most appreciated, Falmouth Service Center, 661 Gifford St., Falmouth, MA 02540, or Friends of Falmouth Dogs, P.O. Box 438,
Falmouth, MA 02541. For online condolences and register book, please visit www.pikenewhall.com.
The Pike-Newhall Funeral Home, 61 Middle St., Gloucester, is assisting the family with arrangements.
Published on March 11, 2018