St. Helena Mayor Delford Glenn (“Buddy”) Britton ’61, 74, died unexpectedly of renal failure Jan. 8, 2013, at home, after serving four terms and having been sworn in for a fifth.
A true native son, Mayor Britton was born in St. Helena on Aug. 3, 1938 to Mary Jane and Delford Britton. Britton’s seven siblings and life-long friends remember him as a popular kid “into everything” from sports to carpentry to student government to jazz. Britton received his bachelor’s degree from Santa Clara University on a baseball scholarship and while in the military earned graduate degrees in economics and business administration.
In 1963, Britton was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force and later became a Command Pilot in Vietnam. For his valor in flying helicopter rescue missions, Britton was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (among other decorations). His quarter century of military service included assignments such as Professor of Aerospace at Lehigh University and ROTC Detachment Commander at Loyola Marymount University, Senior Staff at the Military Airlift Command (MAC), and the Air Sea Rescue Command for the Pacific.
After transitioning from the military, a Lt. Colonel, to civilian life, Britton fulfilled his dream of returning to St. Helena, where he built a home on the property where he was born and raised.
In Vietnam, Britton met and married his first wife, Red Cross service member Ida Jane Welty, with whom he had three children and celebrated 34 years of marriage before her death in 2004. Four years later, Britton met Marielle Coeytaux, a musician and soon-to-be pilot from Pope Valley; the couple married a year and a half later and together organized community-building events such as the Sister-ity Project, a Youth Awareness Program, and Community Christmas carols.
Britton entered politics motivated largely by his abiding passion for St. Helena and his determination to preserve its way of life.
Above all, Del is known for his integrity, playfulness, gentle spirit, contagious optimism, sense of humor, and his insistence on seeing the best in everyone. No matter how insignificant a person’s effort in delivering on a request, Del’s response would always be, “Wonderful, wonderful.” He was a man who preferred to hear a joke over a compliment, and who liked to speed-walk any golf course, treating his best scores as flukes and his worst as funny, living always by his well-known mantra, “It is what it is.”
Britton is survived by his wife, Marielle; his three children Duke Britton, April Wilder, and Stephanie Getz; four grandchildren, four step-daughters, and six sisters.