Former city councilor remembered for his faith and community service

Bill Acton

DAVIS – Wilfred “Bill” Burl Acton gave back to the community through his faith and as a civic leader, serving as both Davison Alderman and Protem Mayor.

Acton, 86, died March 29. Funeral services were held April 6 at Davison Free Methodist Church, 502 Church St.; Reverend Bradley Button and Pastor Shane Bengry co-officiate.

Interment followed the service at Davison Cemetery.

Acton was born to Otto and Olive Blanch (Brant) Acton on June 27, 1935 in Olney, Illinois. He was raised by a group of wonderful women: his mother and five sisters, Imogene, Evelyn, Lois, Mary, Carrie and his cousin, Dorothy Scott.

The family moved to Wayne County during World War II to work at a tank factory near Detroit. Acton’s sister, Lois, helped financially enable him to be the first person in her family to go to college.

He majored in philosophy and religion at Spring Arbor Junior College and Roberts Wesleyan College.

Acton was best known for singing in traveling men’s quartets – something he really enjoyed, according to his family.

He met his wife, Margaret Jane “Jane” Thompson, in 1955 on their first day at college. They were classmates for four years and began dating in 1960. They married a year later on August 12, 1961, and had three sons, Jeffrey Burl, Kevin Todd and Robert Brant Acton.

Called to ministry, Acton has pastored three congregations in Vicksburg, Portage and Hazel Park.

The Actons lived in Davison for most of their adult lives, where he served as a member of the city council and mayor Pro Tem.

After 10 years working in probate court, he served 17 years as founding executive director of Covenant Hills Camp, East Michigan Conference of the Free Methodist Church.

From 1994 to 2003, Acton served as senior pastor of the Davison Free Methodist Church, the faith community he and Jane called their own for most of their lives.

After retirement, they made Light & Life Park in Lakeland, Florida their winter home alongside many lifelong friends.

Besides being a loving husband and proud father and grandfather, Acton found joy in playing Rook with friends, shopping for the latest gadgets, photographing, writing and performing skits and quartet music.

According to his obituary, his family said that “Acton’s unwavering faith in God was deep-seated and the anchor of his life”.

He is survived by his wife, Jane Acton; his children, Jeffrey (Cindy) Acton, Kevin Acton and Rob Acton; his grandchildren, Jeffrey (Jamie) Acton, Leigha (Anthony) Giannetti, Mckenzie (Austin) Ames, Tyler Acton, Kasey Acton, Karlie Acton, Karson Acton, Kelsey Acton and Kylie Acton, as well as his first great-grandchild.

He was predeceased by his father; mother; five sisters and countless dear friends.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Davison Free Methodist Church or Covenant Hills Camp, Otisville, MI, in Bill’s memory.

Norma P. Rex