Because of his relentless efforts to make the park a reality, William H. Burr came to be known as the “Father of Sherwood Island.”
Burr was a vegetable and fruit grower who carried on the business his father began on Long Lots Road, Westport. He was president of the Board of the Southport Savings Bank (now part of Peoples Bank), which served the farming community.
He was active in the Connecticut and local Fruit and Vegetable Growers Associations and the Greens Farms Farmers Club, and spoke frequently on agricultural topics. He also served as president of Westport’s Board of Trade.
A spirited public citizen, he was Westport’s representative in the General Assembly in 1911; president of the Westport Historical Society and director of the Fairfield Historical Society; and president of the Board of the Westport Library (then a private foundation).
A member of the Sons of the American Revolution, he was an avid student of the Revolutionary War, especially the events in Fairfield County. He was a prime mover behind the installation of Westport’s Minute Man statue, and gave the dedication address in 1910. In 1910 he was also president of the Israel Putnam Memorial Camp Ground Commission.
He fought not just for Sherwood Island State Park, but for public access to Westport’s Compo Beach, Old Mill Beach and Burying Hill Beach as well.