Remembering longtime Mensa member Burton Spain, who passed away in 1994
To Burton With Love
By Sharon Alicia Ross
I came to Mensa about 10 years ago and learned how badly devoid of social skills most of us have been for much of our lives. After my first meeting, I'd been so ignored and, in one case, rudely treated that I was sure I would never come back. There were two notable exceptions to my chilly initiation. One was the late, wonderfully wacky and overwhelming Walter Darson. The other was Burton Spain… smolderingly warm, mysterious and charmingly cunning. For years he made a point of welcoming new members at the John Barleycorn Brunch. He welcomed many of us into his home and surprised us with his elegant artistic taste. He was an officer in Mensa for years. He was a gentleman. He made pool cues; not just any pool cues, but some of the best in the world. A pool player with a Spain cue was like a violinist with a Stradivarius. It was years before I knew that, and I didn't hear it from Burton.
I got a call informing me that Burton died this week, and before he died, he'd planned his whole funeral, down to the guest list and a luncheon at a popular local restaurant. He is still surprising me.
The last time I saw Burton was last fall at a Barleycorn Brunch. Before I left, I went over to him and told him how much I missed his hugs. He held me so close and tenderly, like an old love who knows all my secrets and doesn't care. His hand rested on my bare back as I wrapped my arms around him and my blouse slipped up a bit too much (I was so glad it did.) He had a warm, cozy smell, and I wondered just why we'd never gotten together at some point in the previous decade. I wondered if, maybe, sometime in the near future, perhaps we should.
I didn't go the Barleycorn Brunch any more after that, because I had much unfinished business elsewhere, but every second Sunday I thought of Burton, missed his hugs, and promised myself, somehow, we must get together again.
Now I will be there, without him, at the Rosehill Chapel, with all the people he loved, with all the people who loved him, celebrating his life and aching for just one more hug.