Alice Burton
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Alice Burton

Co-founder of Burton Mercy Hospital

Widow of
DeWitt T. Burton


Alice Burton

Dr. DeWitt T. Burton was born in Memphis, Tennessee on November 15, 1892. He graduated from Kortrechet High School in 1914 and went to Nashville, Tennessee, where he completed his pre-medical training at Fisk University and, in 1920, earned his medical degree from Meharry Medical College. He came to Detroit in 1921 and began his private practice. He was also on the staffs of Grace, Dunbar Memorial, and later, Parkside Hospitals.

He co-founded Wayne Diagnostic Hospital and Wayne Diagnostic Convalescent Home with Dr. Chester Ames in 1939. He also founded the Resthaven Convalescent Home. Wayne Diagnostic Hospital was expanded from 50 to 96 beds and the hospital's name was changed during the mid-1940s. At that point, Dr. Burton retired from active medical practice and became full-time administrator of Burton Mercy Hospital.

Dr. Burton was elected to the first elected Board of Governors of Wayne State University in 1959. He was the first African American ever elected in a state-wide election in the State of Michigan. He served on the board for ten years.

He also served on a number of other boards, including the Board of Trustees of Meharry Medical College, the national board of directors of the Negro College Fund, the United Foundation of Metropolitan Detroit, World Medical Relief Organization, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Detroit Urban League, Detroit Area Council Boy Scouts of America, USO, Metropolitan YMCA, and Greater Detroit Area Hospital Council.

Dr. Burton was a member of the Detroit Medical Society, Wayne County Medical Society, Michigan State Medical Society, National Medical Association, American Medical Association, Michigan Hospital Association, and American Hospital Association. His fraternal and club activities included memberships in the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, Iota Boule, and the Economic Club of Detroit.

Dr. Burton married Alice Boyd in 1922. Mrs. Burton was born on her grandfather's plantation outside Natchez, Mississippi on August 22, 1900. She attended high school at Natchez College and earned her bachelor's degree at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.

She was a high school teacher of Latin before marrying Dr. Burton and moving to Detroit.

Mrs. Burton was comptroller at Burton Mercy Hospital for a number of years and became its sole administrator upon Dr. Burton's death in 1970.

Tape recorded interview;
Detroit, MI
5 May  1997
audio clip

Talks about Burton Mercy Hospital as an example of the demise of black hospitals (Narrator recalls her feeling about the hospital being torn down.]

But, of course after I sat there and cried like a baby, I called Bob, the maintenance man He said, “Ms. Burton I can’t come there and help and watch the hospital be torn down. I can’t do that. I’ve given too many hours there myself and I don’t want to see it being torn down.”

So, I called the newspaper man, Longworth Quinn [at the Michigan Chronicle], and told him, “Mr. Quinn, will you come and sit with me? They’re going to tear the hospital down today.” And, he said he’d come, but he didn’t show up. Well, I don’t mind saying I’m like “Miss Don’t Give a Damn Jones”, I don’t give a damn. So, when I get angry I have that “Don’t Give a Damn Jones” [attitude]. So, I went and sat…asked a lady on the other side of the hospital, in front, “Lady, can I sit on your steps (voice quivers emotionally and eyes tearing)?” And, I sat there in tears waiting for Longworth Quinn to come and he never showed up. [I] cried while they were tearing the hospital down.

It’s never to be torn down, so my husband said. “This hospital will never be torn down. It will not be used as a hospital, but it will be used for some medical facility.” And, I sat there in tears and cried. And, nobody to come and sit by me. Nobody. But, I sat there and watched it being torn down. I certainly did. And, then they hauled it away.


William G. Anderson
Reginald P. Ayala
Arthur W Boddie
Wilma Brakefield-Caldwell
Henry C. Bryant Jr.
Alice Burton
Waldo L. Cain
James W. Collins
Claude and Vivienne Cooper
Gladys B. Dillard
George Gaines Jr.
Leon Gant
Herman J. Glass Sr.
Della Goodwin
Joseph B. Harris
Frank P. Iacobell
Horace L. Jefferson
Sidney B. Jenkins
Arthur Johnson
Rachel B. Keith
William E. Lawson
Josephine Love
Hayward Maben Jr.
Berna C. Mason
Suesetta T. McCree
Dorothy Mottley
David C. Northcross Jr.
Ophelia B. Northcross
Marjorie Peebles-Meyers
Frank P. Raiford III
Garther Roberson Jr.
S. L. Roberson
Elsie Smith
Fannie L. Starks
Lionel F. Swan
Natalia M. Tanner
Oretta Mae Todd
I. Clara Webb
Charles F. Whitten
Charles H. Wright
Watson Young


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Copyright , Kellogg African American Health Care Project, 2000.
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