A brief obit for Burton A. Burton ran last week with an incorrect memorial date, which should have read: Saturday, May 31 at 10 a.m.


Burton A. Burton

Burton Alan Burton, who founded Casablanca Fan Company in Old Pasadena and re-popularized the ceiling fan, died last month in Orcas Island, Wash. He was 75 years old.

Born on March 11, 1928 in Hollywood, Calif., Burton was an only child who grew up in nearby Pasadena and San Marino. His father, Roy, was a CPA. His mother, Zita, was one of the first female building contractors in the West.

Burton’s marketing innovations were legendary. He spent more than $1 million to refurbish two old railroad cars-1940s relics of the New York Central and the Rock Island Line. He furnished them with antiques, rosewood paneling, beveled glass and uniformed porters. He toured the country in these traveling showrooms promoting Casablanca Fans. He hosted sales meetings aboard, took the cars to industry conventions and trade shows, got sales reps and dealers so excited about fans they enticed consumers to pay 50 percent more than they’d ever paid for a ceiling fan. Dealers still remember him as “the guy who took us aboard the train.”

Nothing was too extreme for Burton. To keep the Casablanca name alive in the heads of reps and dealers, he once rode into a sales meeting on an elephant. Burton and his Casablanca Fans were visible on Rose Bowl Parade floats, in circus acts and T-shirts that read: “Blow your wad; cool your bod.”

Burton rented the Old Pasadena train station for his office and showroom. He even installed old train whistles on the roof, which he tooted whenever the trains came by. Years later, after retiring to Orcas Island, Burton built his own train station and rail line-the Mt. Baker Rail-road-designing it after the Lake Elsinore station he had so many fond memories of.

Burton A. Burton leaves his wife, Rosie, whom he married in 1991; and his sons Andrew, in Sumner, Wash. and Chris, in Carlsbad, Calif.; two grandchildren, Andrea and Robby; and his stepdaughter, Pam, in Los Angeles. A memorial ceremony will take place at the Paradise Cove Restaurant on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, on Saturday, May 31 at 10 a.m.