SALT LAKE CITY – Meet James T. Burton, Kirton McConkie shareholder and German Honorary Consul to Utah.
German is the third most common language spoken in the State of Utah according to Ben Blatt from Slate Magazine, and is included as an option for dual language immersion at two elementary schools in the state. Utah’s German ties date back to the mid-1800s when multiple Germans immigrated to Utah, including the renowned Karl G. Maeser, founder of Brigham Young University. Additionally, Utah is home to Christkindlmarkt-SLC, a well-known traditional German Christmas market held at This is the Place Heritage Park each December. Utah is also home to a German appointed and U.S. Department of State approved Honorary German Consul, James T. Burton. This appointment is an honor from Germany not only for Mr. Burton but also to the entire State of Utah which has built strong ties with the country.
Prior to Mr. Burton’s appointment as the German Honorary Consul to Utah, he participated in consular duties as the unofficial German Honorary Vice Consul to Utah. The former German Honorary Consul is Charles Dahlquist, who served as the first President of the Utah Consular Corps, a former National Commissioner for Boy Scouts of America and the former General Young Men’s President for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mr. Dahlquist and Mr. Burton met each other at Kirton McConkie where Mr. Dahlquist is also a shareholder. Germany has a mandatory retirement age of 65 for diplomats, which was extended to 67 for Mr. Dahlquist so that he could personally have a hand in choosing the next German Honorary Consul to Utah. Mr. Burton was recommended by Mr. Dahlquist, and after careful consideration and an interview by the German Consul General, he was approved by the German Foreign Mission and U.S. State Department in 2014 to become the next German Honorary Consul to Utah. Mr. Burton values his relationship with Mr. Dahlquist so much that he even named his youngest son Charlie after him.
Mr. Burton’s family connection to Germany is generations deep. His grandfather served a mission in Germany for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Following this, he later served as the president to the Church’s European Mission twice, and while in this position ordained Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf as a missionary. Mr. Burton’s father followed in his grandfather’s footsteps by serving his own mission in German-speaking Switzerland, after having lived many years in Germany as a youth. Many of Mr. Burton’s family members, including one of his brothers and a brother-in-law, all served missions in Germany. Although he is not German himself, Mr. Burton grew up with a deep love for Germany and the German people. He was thrilled when his time came to serve a mission for his church and he was also called to serve in Germany.
One of the reasons that Mr. Burton enjoys his service as German Honorary Consul to Utah is because of the opportunity to stay connected to the country and people. Mr. Burton takes advantage of every opportunity to use his knowledge of the German language. He still practices German and speaks German with the 30-40 Germans who use the passport and other services of the German Honorary Consulate in Utah every month.
Even though his consulate office and legal office are in the same building, Mr. Burton takes care to ensure that he keeps his duties for his positions separate. However, he also realizes these positions don’t exist entirely independently. “Without Kirton McConkie,” he explained, “I couldn’t be a consul. They provide the assistance and office space to make this service possible. Kirton McConkie did the same for Charles when he was the German Honorary Consul before me. I want to thank them for their public service and support.”
Serving as the German Honorary Consul to Utah as well as the Vice-President to the Utah Consular Corps is time-consuming. Mr. Burton shares that consuls, such as himself, form the “necessary and valuable bridge” between their country of representation, the state, and various organizations. As a bridge, consuls are able to understand culture, languages, issues and willingly help those involved in the exchange to feel comfortable.
Utah is an appealing state for Germany and other countries to work with because of its strong economy and educated workforce – unemployment is low and Utah runs consistently fiscally in the black. Of course, the relationship is reciprocal: Germany is a strong partner for Utah because it is one of the largest economies and exporters in the world.