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Rising above

“I truly believe that music can change a life forever because that is what it has done for me.”

Those are the words of the late Josh Burton, a young man whose heart was full of music and who was loved by all who met him.

A musician, a composer, a humanitarian, Josh passed away tragically after a vehicle accident in Guatemala in 2013, just a few months away from the end of his two-year mission through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He was 23 years old.

To honour him, Josh’s uncle and aunt — Dr. Wayne Burton (BSc ’97) and Jasmine Burton — established the Josh Burton Memorial Award at the University of Lethbridge in 2015. The award will help U of L music students establish their careers in music. 

“Josh was always a very energetic and driven young man; he was a great person to be around. He had a lot of friends wherever he lived,” Wayne lovingly remembers. “He was, among other things, a great musician. He played piano; he studied the different classical composers but very much wanted to take it and run with it himself. He composed a lot of music himself and eventually recorded an album that I helped him with.”

A physician and an accomplished inspirational musician, Wayne obtained a Bachelor of Science at the University of Lethbridge before he completed medical school at the University of Utah. As he and Jasmine were both raised in southern Alberta, they returned and made Lethbridge their home. When they considered supporting a U of L scholarship program, they immediately recalled Josh’s love of music.

“We thought it was really fitting to have Josh be recognized because he certainly was a learner,” says Wayne. “He didn’t do a formal university music program but he was always just soaking it up whenever he could.”

Music and education are two strong themes in the Burton family. Josh shared a love of music with Wayne and with his father, Allan. Josh’s mother Heather (BEd ’89) is a strong supporter of learning in all its forms.

U of L student Logan Amon was the first to receive the Josh Burton Memorial Award. For Logan, the award has helped him pursue his own passion for music. “I am so grateful to be a recipient of the award,” he says. “It is a great honour to be awarded in the memory of someone who was so talented in music and devoted to serving others.”

In 2011, Josh had said: “If people can listen to my music and walk away considering themselves better off for having heard it, then I would consider myself a successful artist.”

Although Josh’s life was cut far too short, his words and his music live on. He will continue to inspire for generations to come.

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