Colonel Burton C. Quist, USMC (Ret.), 76, of Middletown, RI, died on January 25, 2023, at his home surrounded by family, after a short and difficult battle with cancer. He was the husband of Catherine (Swallow) Quist.
Born in Worcester, MA, on August 7, 1946, he was the son of the late Charles and Elizabeth (Martin) Quist. Raised in West Boylston, MA, he attended West Boylston High School, where he established a close group of lifelong friends, which remains to this day. Upon graduating, he attended Dartmouth College (Class of ’68), graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in History. Throughout his career, he continued his education at the graduate level earning a Master of Arts in Teaching from Wesleyan University and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania.
Burt’s service to country and community continued a long-standing family tradition. His ancestor Ephraim Chenery served as a Selectman in Medfield, MA, and raised a company of militia to serve during the Revolutionary War. His father and father-in-law were Marines in the First Marine Division during World War II who made the landings on Guadalcanal and New Britain. Having grown up close to the Marine Corps, Burt always knew he wanted to serve. At a First Marine Division reunion, he met his wife Cathy of Upland, PA.
Burt was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1969 and retired from active service in 1996. Among his several deployments as an infantry officer, he served in Vietnam and Guantanamo Bay, commanded 1st Battalion 1st Marines, and commanded Joint Task Force Provide Promise (Forward) during the Yugoslav Wars. He was a graduate of the Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School and the Naval War College and taught at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. Following instructor duty at the Naval War College, he retired from the Corps in Newport. He established lifelong friendships during his 27-year career, and his family enjoyed multiple assignments on both coasts and in Norway.
After his military career, Burt worked in business development for another 20 years. Having been stationed in the Newport area, he constantly desired to return to Aquidneck Island for retirement. He and Cathy moved back to Middletown in 2009, where he eventually retired from Northrup Grumman in 2016.
In retirement, Burt conducted tours of Newport for the Newport Historical Society, worked as a tour guide at Fort Adams, and pursued his passion for the restoration of Butts Hill Fort in Portsmouth. He always enjoyed using his love of history to contribute to the local community on Aquidneck Island. He would often find any opportunity to ensure a conversation somehow ended up with a discussion on Rhode Island’s Revolutionary War history. He also traveled frequently to see his sons and grandchildren and visit friends and family around the country and the world, including those in Norway, Croatia, and Chile.
Burt had an affinity for learning and reading, particularly anything history-related. He also enjoyed fishing, gardening, and spending time with his family. He was a founding director of the Battle of Rhode Island Association and member of the Butts Hill Fort Restoration Committee, a board member of the Rhode Island Society of the Sons of the Revolution, a life member of the First Marine Division Association and the Marine Corps Association, and a member of the West Boylston Historical Society, Middletown Historical Society, United Congregational Church of Middletown, Newport Rifle Club, Tiverton Rod and Gun Club, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Throughout his life, Burt’s service answered the question he often posed to his sons when they were young, “What have you done for God and country today?”
Colonel Quist is survived by his wife, Catherine (Swallow) Quist; his children, Lieutenant Colonel Erik C. C. Quist (USMC), of Occoquan, VA and his wife Elizabeth; Major Carl A. Quist (USMC), of Camp Pendleton, CA and his wife Angela; his brother Steven J. Quist, of Milo, ME and his wife Wanda; his two grandchildren, Isak C. Quist and Laina I. Quist; and several beloved in-laws, nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Visiting hours will be held on Thursday, February 2, 2023, from 4:00-7:00 PM in the Memorial Funeral Home, 375 Broadway, Newport RI.
Funeral services will continue on Friday, February 3, at 11:00 AM in the United Congregational Church, 524 Valley Road, Middletown. Burial will be held at a later date in the Arlington National Cemetery in VA.
Donations in Colonel Quist’s memory may be made to The Battle of Rhode Island Association (BoRIA) by mail to PO Box 626 Portsmouth, RI 02871 or at www.battleofrhodeisland.org.