LINCOLN — During his many years of public service, Burton Stallwood has always made sure to allow the core values of his faith to shine through in his work in the community. As Lincoln town administrator for 28 years and U.S. Marshal from Rhode Island for seven years, his dedication to service and commitment to personal integrity earned him the respect of his coworkers, constituents and fellow parishioners at St. Ambrose Church, Albion. Next Wednesday, he will be honored for his work in the community with a Lumen Gentium Award in the category of Public Service.
“I think the 28 years I served with integrity and honesty,” Stallwood said during an interview at his Albion home. “I was very fortunate that the people gave me the opportunity to carry out some of the projects. It was always in the back of my mind that it was their town, not mine.”
Stallwood was born in Central Falls to an Irish Catholic mother and an English Protestant father. As a child, he attended the Church of the Holy Trinity and St. Edward School, Pawtucket, where he received his foundational Catholic education before going on to Tolman High School. To this day, he remains grateful for his father’s willingness to raise him in the Church.
“I was very fortunate that he allowed me to grow up in the Catholic Church,” said Stallwood.
He served in the United States Air Force before returning to open an insurance business in Lincoln. It was at the urging of relatives and friends that he decided to run for the office of town administrator, winning his first election in 1973. Over the next 28 years, he would oversee the completion of a number of municipal projects, relying on cooperation among his fellow public officials to accomplish the work of the town.
“I used to tell the department that there was no private ownership. If you’re successful, we’re all successful,” he said.
Stallwood attends daily Mass at St. Ambrose, where he also serves as a Eucharistic minister and a parish trustee. Pastor Father Thomas Ferland, who nominated him for the award, describes him as a man of prayer who has allowed the message of the Gospel to penetrate his daily life.
“His support of efforts to proclaim the gospel of life, mercy and joy are strong but quiet,” said Father Ferland. “He is like the humble servant of the Lord spoken of in the scriptures.”
Stallwood also attends Mass regularly at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, Massachusetts, a place that holds a special significance. About 20 years ago, he was diagnosed with breast cancer and went to the shrine to pray to Our Lady of La Salette. Now, cancer-free for the past 18 years, he continues to make regular visits.
“I’ve been very fortunate all the way through,” he said.