Betty S. Burton Groce
The Johnny C. Burton Memorial Scholarship was established in 1996 by his wife Betty S. Burton and their three daughters. Born in 1935, in Arkansas, Mr. Burton was raised in Muskegon Heights as one of five children of an African-American family. Due to his hard work, creativity and entrepreneurial skills, he became a successful and respected businessman, known throughout Grand Rapids and Michigan. He went on to create Wonderland Business Forms, Inc., a distributor of business forms and paper products, with customers ranging from world class corporations and public and government institutions to small, independent stores and offices. During his lifetime, Mr. Burton shared his success with family, church and community. His generosity included financial support, assertive leadership, and unlimited time. However, the mentoring of African American youth and showing them how to maximize an opportunity was Mr. Burton’s most important contribution and gave him the greatest pleasure.
“I believe God gave us each just a few talents. It’s our job to discover them. It’s our responsibility to maximize them to the fullest.” Johnny C. Burton
A native of Manistee, Michigan, Betty Burton is a lifelong resident of West Michigan. She has earned her Master of Education at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in 1977 and received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1999. Betty Burton currently serves as a director of the Grand Valley University Foundation Board.
In 1987, with failing health, Johnny C. Burton was identified as a heart transplant candidate. Soon after, Betty left the classroom and took over as CEO of the firm. In 1996, a year after Mr. Burton passed away, Betty established the Johnny C. Burton Memorial Scholarship Fund at GVSU, benefiting African American students pursuing business degrees through Grand Valley’s Minority Business Education Center.