More than 100 family members, former students, colleagues and friends gathered at the pool deck at Evanston Township High School on March 11 to pay tribute to Coach “Dobbie” Burton in a dedication ceremony naming the pool the “William Dobson Burton Aquatic Center.” The District 202 School Board voted unanimously to name the pool after the legendary swim and golf coach.
Coach Burton is credited for “putting ETHS on the map as the school with the pre-eminent swimming program in the state and in the nation,” said Superintendent Eric Witherspoon. “There are only a few giants to walk across the landscape, … a few who have left a mark that it is beyond compare, …we are in the presence of one of those few giants and that is Coach Dobbie Burton.”
Chris Livatino, athletic director at ETHS, said Coach Burton led ETHS to four national swim championships and five state championships in his 38-year coaching career. He coached more than 200 all-American swimmers, and was inducted into the Illinois Swimming Hall of Fame in 1969.
Former swimmers Wes Harris (ETHS ’51) and Dave Burgess (ETHS ’58) spoke in his honor. Mr. Burgess said Coach Burton was not only one of the finest swim coaches in history, but that he instilled high standards of respect, integrity, hard work and a sense of humor in the young men he coached. “We’re all better people for working under you,” he told the Coach.