In Memoriam: Battle of Rhode Island Association Director Burt Quist

The Battle of Rhode Island Association's logo and wordmark

It is with great sadness that the Battle of Rhode Island Association and the Butts Hill Fort Restoration Committee announce the passing of Director Colonel Burton C. Quist, USMC (Ret.). He passed with his family at his side after a brief battle with cancer on January 25, 2023. In addition to being a founding Director of the Battle of Rhode Island Association (BoRIA) and an active member of the Butts Hill Fort Restoration Committee (BHFRC), Burt was a Board Member of the Rhode Island Society of the Sons of the Revolution and the Rhode Island Chairman for the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association.

Burt’s contributions to the BoRIA were many and significant. With his ability to work with people, he recruited several volunteers to the BoRIA Board and BHFRC. Recognizing that achieving our mission required “getting the story out”, he became Director of Public Affairs and began outreach through the media and multiple events. His “Coffee and Donuts at the Fort” event brought recognition that BoRIA had begun. Finally, with his senior leader military background, Burt was able to engage and enlist several local, state and national American Revolution heritage organizations, forging partnerships, and garnering funding and mutual support for BoRIA’s multiple restoration and preservation efforts.

Burt was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1969 and retired from active service in 1996. Among his deployments as an infantry officer, he served in Vietnam and Guantanamo Bay, commanded 1st Battalion 1st Marines, and commanded Joint Task Force Provide Promise (Forward) during the Yugoslav Wars. He was a graduate of the Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School and the Naval War College and taught at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. Following instructor duty at the Naval War College, he retired from the Corps in Newport, Rhode Island. He established lifelong friendships during his 27-year career and his family enjoyed multiple assignments on both coasts and in Norway. After his military career, Burt worked in business development for another 20 years. Having been stationed in the Newport area, he constantly desired to return to Aquidneck Island for retirement. He and Cathy moved back to Middletown in 2009, where he eventually retired from Northrup Grumman in 2016.

In retirement, Burt conducted tours of Newport for the Newport Historical Society, worked as a tour guide at Fort Adams, and pursued his passion for the restoration of Butts Hill Fort in Portsmouth. He always enjoyed using his love of history to contribute to the local community on Aquidneck Island. He would often find any opportunity to ensure a conversation somehow ended up with a discussion on Rhode Island’s Revolutionary War history. He also traveled frequently to see his sons and grandchildren and visit friends and family around the country and the world, including those in Norway, Croatia, and Chile.

Burt was a good friend to many and had a dry sense of humor. He loved studying history and educating the community about the restoration efforts at Butts Hill Fort. His friendship, dedication, and contributions will be sorely missed.

Donations in Colonel Quist’s memory may be made to the Battle of Rhode Island Association (BoRIA) by mail to PO Box 626 Portsmouth, RI 02871 or at

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