Hamilton lost a member of its community on Dec. 14 when Graham Burton ’19 passed away in his residence hall. A campus-wide gathering took place that evening in the College Chapel, where several hundred students, professors and staff shared their sorrow.
In a campus email earlier that day, President David Wippman wrote:
Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,
I write with deep sadness and profound heartache to inform you of the tragic death of a member of our community. Graham Burton, a member of the Class of 2019 from Toronto, Canada, died this morning in his residence hall room. It is not possible to express in words the deep sense of loss we feel for such an unexpected tragedy.
Especially at this time of year, and in light of such a heartbreaking event, I encourage anyone who needs it to reach out for support. We will hold an informal gathering this evening at 5:15 p.m. in the College Chapel so that we may come together at this moment of loss. At a later time, we will find another opportunity to join together to celebrate more fully Graham’s life.
Members of the Counseling Center and Chaplaincy are also available to assist you today or at any other time you may wish to reach out to them. For those who may have completed their finals and already returned home, the Counseling Center offers 24-hour coverage.
On behalf of the Hamilton community, I extend our deepest and most profound condolences to Graham’s family. Whether tonight in the Chapel, or in the days and weeks ahead, please join me in taking time to remember Graham and his family.
I encourage all members of the community to seek the support of loved ones and friends at this difficult time.
The following obituary was prepared by Graham's family.
March 26th, 1997 to December 14th, 2016
It is with overwhelming sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Graham.
A gentle soul with a tremendous sense of humour and a quick mind, Graham loved the outdoors. Winters spent skiing with family and friends, and summers camping, canoeing and fishing in Algonquin Park, Graham was an adventurer who could build a quinzee or pitch a tent, depending on the season. The quiet solitude of nature gave Graham the place to think that he sought.
Graham was a sophomore at Hamilton College, a Liberal Arts college in Clinton, New York. He chose the school partly because of its proximity to the Adirondack Park and Mountains, where he could continue to enjoy outdoor life, and its large arboretum where he would walk, sit, think and write.
Of the many things that Graham loved about Hamilton, student directed theatre was a favourite. We watched him perform during Family Weekend in October and he was rehearsing a script when he was home for the US Thanksgiving holiday.
Graham delighted in all things comedic, especially Seinfeld, and he shared with us a dialogue he had written in that style, which he performed with friends. Graham also wrote poetry which he read at school recitals. We looked forward to his phone calls during which he would read us his work.
A new love was guitar, which Graham taught himself to play this summer. He always had a Spotify playlist on the go, and together with friends, recently formed an impromptu band which took to the stage to play a set.
Our lives will never be the same. We learned something new and interesting from Graham every day.
In addition to his grieving parents, Stewart and Gina Burton, and his elder brother Andrew, Graham leaves Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, Cousins, Fraternity Brothers, Fellow School Club Members, Professors and Very Special Friends.
If you wish to honour Graham’s memory, tell someone a joke today. And please consider a donation to Vibes, Hamilton’s forum for shared writing.
Graham, you will live on in our hearts and minds forever.
With everlasting love,
Mom, Dad and Andrew
A gathering to celebrate Graham’s life, will be held at a later date.