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Blair and Vicky Burton will leave family and business behind later this month when they report to California to preside over the California Bakersfield Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Burton, president, and co-owner of Paul’s Pest Control will leave his company under the care of his business partner and general manager.
The California Bakersfield Mission is one of 407 missions throughout the world where 54,539 full-time teaching missionaries and 36,639 Church-service missionaries labor.
Blair Burton said missionary work has been a priority for the Church since its early days.
“Missionary work did not start with restored Church. Missionary work was embedded into the gospel of Jesus Christ and into God’s interaction with ancient Israel. Missionaries teach the concept to have faith in and trust Him and to make sacred covenants to repent, be baptized, to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and then to endure in righteous living as best you can. Within that framework of sinning and repenting, which we all do, we get better and better as we go along. That is embedded in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Burtons have been Tallahassee residents since 2000, moving over from Quincy. “I like to say I’m not from here, but I got here as quickly as I could,” he said. Burton was born in Wyoming and lived in Virginia, Indiana, and Ohio before serving a two-year Church mission in Peru.
Vicky Burton was born in Valdosta, raised in Quincy and met her husband at Brigham Young University in Utah, where she majored in elementary education. Her father was Paul Nicholson, who started Paul’s Pest Control and operated Nicholson’s Farmhouse Restaurant near Havana.
Blair and Vicky are the parents of five children and four grandchildren. Missionary work runs in the family. Blair served a full-time mission, their son Matthew served a mission in Denver, daughter Lydia is currently serving in Ogden, Utah awaiting a visa to the Taiwan Taipei Mission and the youngest, Alison, is serving in Boise, Idaho.
Vicky Burton has dedicated her life to raising her children. “I have been blessed to be able to be a stay-at-home mom and raise kids,” she said.
The Burtons are no strangers to service in the Church. Blair Burton is a stake public affairs specialist and mission presidency counselor and former stake president, stake executive secretary, high councilor, stake mission presidency counselor, bishop, bishopric counselor, and 11-year-old Scout leader.
Vicky Burton is a ward young women president and former ward relief society president, ward young women presidency counselor, ward primary presidency counselor and seminary teacher.
Unlike most Church missionaries who submit a request to serve a mission, the Burton’s call to serve in California was somewhat of a surprise.
Church President Russell M. Nelson and Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles extended the mission call.
“We were not expecting this calling. At first you think about the things that you are going to leave behind and how hard that is going to be. But then you start to think about all the wonderful experiences you are going to have and all the missionaries that you are going to love and how much growth I know we will have and the blessings that will come to our family left behind and to us and so then it becomes not so scary and overwhelming. But yes, we are still in that ‘don’t know what to expect but excited and nervous stage,’” he said.
Vicky Burton said missionary work is fundamental to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“That’s how the Lord spreads his gospel – through His servants. It is just so important that everyone has the opportunity to learn about the Savior and to learn about the gospel. The whole point of missionary work is to take the gospel to all the people throughout the earth, so they can then choose for themselves, but at least they have that knowledge of the Lord’s plan for them,” she said.
Though the Burtons will spend the next three years in California they have no plans of abandoning Tallahassee.
“This is where we expect to live out our days,” he said.