Ex-mayor dies at 78
First female city leader served for 20-plus years

COVINGTON - Former Covington mayor and councilwoman Allene Capes Burton died Friday at the age of 78.

Burton was the first woman elected mayor and the first appointed as city clerk. She served on the Covington City Council for 26 years.

She also served on the Newton County Planning Commission and was named Newton County's Poet Laureate in 1985 by resolution of the Board of Commissioners.

"The city sends its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Allene Capes Burton. She devoted the majority of her life (to) serving Covington," said Mayor Kim Carter, who is Burton's second cousin. "She rose from city employee to city clerk and was elected to the City Council. She achieved the highest elected position in the city when she became the first female mayor. There's no doubt that Allene loved Covington and we owe her many thanks for her long-term service to the citizens."

Former Mayor Sam Ramsey served on the City Council with Burton.

"I always enjoyed working with Allene. On the council, she always tried to treat everybody the same," Ramsey said. "I think she made a good council person. She was always looking out for the best interests of the city."

A lifelong resident of Newton County, Burton was a member of Covington's First Presbyterian Church.

She served as city clerk for 20 years and then successfully campaigned for a seat on the City Council. She also served on the Covington-Newton County Industrial Development Authority and the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority.

Burton was elected mayor in 1995 and took office in January 1996. The following year, Burton was served with a warrant accusing her of misdemeanor theft by taking in connection with an alleged shoplifting incident at a local store. The event made national headlines.

She resigned shortly afterwards, citing a physical and emotional health crisis.

In 2004, Burton had another brush with the law after she was accused of shoplifting at another local store. Burton was not arrested due to her health condition, police said at the time, and was turned over to her caretaker.

Burton was a diabetic whose health had been steadily declining in recent years, according to friends and family.

Burton was preceded in death by husband John C. Burton Jr. and parents John Zack and Inez Johnson Capes.

She is survived by her children, John Mark Burton of Covington and Zachary Carter Burton of Canton, her brother John Robert Capes of Myrtle Beach, S.C. and two nieces.

Funeral services will take place at 11 a.m. today in the chapel of Caldwell and Cowan Funeral Home at 1215 Access Road with Rev. William B. Wade and Frank Turner officiating.

Interment will follow at Covington City Cemetery.

Flowers will be accepted, or donations may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 1169 Clark St. S.W., Covington, GA, 30014.