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Peter John Alexander Burton

Peter John Alexander Burton

IRVINGTON—Peter John Alexander Burton, 76, also known to many as “Famous 20”, died suddenly and unexpectedly June 1, 2023, at the home he shared with his wife Karen Scherberger in Irvington.

Peter was born to parents John and Kathleen in Subiaco, Perth, Western Australia. He was the eldest of four children.

Peter is survived by his wife, Karen; his four children, Matthew (Jules) and their daughters Sloan, Mia, Summer and Tenley; Jay (Nicola) and his children, Ella and Jack; Travis (Ruza) and their children, Audrey, Matilda and Arthur; and Samantha. Peter is also survived by his siblings, Cassandra and her daughter, Corrina (and her son Oliver) and Amanda; and Tony (Debbie) and their son, Clinton (Jo) and their children, Josh and Blake; and his devoted companion, Max.

He is predeceased by his parents, John and Kathleen; his sister, Sharon; and his son, Peter John.

Peter started primary school in Perth before his father accepted a job in Geraldton, a country town some 400km north of Perth and the family moved there in 1955 for a three-year stint, before moving back to Perth in 1958. Peter then went to Marist Brothers Subiaco for his final years of schooling.

He commenced various occupations while filling in time between Australian Rules Football in the winter months and cricket in the summer. He played cricket for West Perth and Scarborough and was a very successful, left arm express bowler who could have pursued a career with this sport but instead chose AFL football.

He started playing AFL football with Subiaco football club in 1965, starting in the fourths, moving through thirds, reserves and finally breaking into the league side in 1967. Team success came in 1973 with a drought breaking 49 year Grand Final win at Subiaco and individual success as the Best and Fairest Winner at the club in 1975. He retired at the end of 1976, having captained the team for the last two years of his career.

His three sons went on to play for Subiaco football club and Jay emulated him by also captaining the club.

After retiring from football, Peter was involved in media work and coaching, whilst partaking in life insurance and finance broking until 1982.

Peter began his Stihl life in 1982, with distributor WA Chainsaws- the WA being his home state of Western Australia. This morphed a year later, becoming the State Manager for WA for approximately 12 years. Whilst on a dealer trip to the U.S. during this time, a discussion was had with Stihl Inc. president Fred Whyte about his potential interest in a role in the U.S. if something ever evolved. The phone rang some six months later, and Peter took the calculated risk of moving to Visalia, California, in a new role with Stihl Pacific.

Fast forward 12 months with a request from Fred asking Peter if he would move to Virginia Beach, the U.S. Headquarters for Stihl USA. Peter was appointed corporate U.S. vice president – sales and marketing, a position that he would hold for 15 plus years. During this time, the Stihl U.S. business achieved record success, and upon his retirement in 2012, the company was the clear leader in gasoline handheld outdoor power equipment.

In 2016, Peter joined the STIHL Southeast, Inc. (SSE) advisory board. “When my son died in 2016”, said SSE owner/chief executive officer Bob Noble Sr., “we asked Peter to join our advisory board. Back in his role at STIHL, Inc, Peter was always a supporter of SSE and my family. After joining our board, Peter’s insight and business sense proved invaluable to our leadership team. He was also a great friend and will be deeply missed.”

The family would also like to acknowledge the relationship he formed with the Stihl family in Germany, and how grateful he was for the opportunity they entrusted in him.

Peter’s career was an undoubted success in relation to the commercial achievement of the Stihl product he was trusted to promote, but more importantly the personal relationships he formed over this 40-year journey that will be remembered for a long time to come.

Karen and Peter were married in 2005, having become acquainted years earlier through Stihl’s sponsorship of the German tall ship at OpSail2000. In 2005, they immediately began to plan their dream home “Twiggsberry” in Irvington, Peter’s favorite place second to his beloved Australia.

Here, Peter continued his passions of gardening, reading, watching reruns of Aussie footy, collecting fine wines and cruising the Rappahannock River and Chesapeake Bay in the Rufus Runabout and his beloved Waltzing Matilda. 

With Karen, they raised their three much loved and spoiled golden retrievers Rufus, Aussie and Max and enjoyed frequent road trips as the BurtonBerger pack.

We as a family are devastated at his sudden passing, however, we are tremendously proud of his life. We know his generosity, sense of humor and thirst for mischief are known and loved by all around the world.

The family would especially like to express our sincere appreciation to Angie Christopher for her devotion to Peter, Karen and the boys.

When Peter entered the room, he had a presence very few people bring, that’s something we’ll miss immensely, as we’re sure many of you will, too.

The Peter Burton Final World Tour continues with Celebrations of Life in his hometown of Perth, Western Australia, July 12, and in Irvington, September 10.   

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Wheelchairs For Kids: 

A full obituary can be viewed at   

Rappahannock Record Staff
Rappahannock Record Staff
From the Rappahannock Record news team

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