Exhibition industry veteran Herb Burton, who was executive director of ShoWest for 21 years, died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease in La Jolla, Calif., on Jan. 25. He was 72.

Burton started in the exhibition business in 1960 as a snack bar attendant in Ontario, Calif., at the Valley Drive-In Theater, owned by the DeAnza Land and Leisure Co.; he eventually worked his way up to city manager in San Diego for the company.

In 1974 Bob Selig recruited Burton to help out by volunteering his services for a group comprising theater owners from 13 Western states dubbed Exhibitors West. The group’s first convention was held in San Diego in 1975, and the event was later moved to Las Vegas in 1978. By 1982 the name changed to ShoWest, a subsidiary of the National Assn. of Theaters Owners of California/Nevada, and in 1984 Burton was named ShoWest executive director — a position he held until 2000, when the convention was sold to the Nielsen Co.

In 2000, Burton became a cinema consultant. He also did volunteer work.

Survivors include a son and three daughters; four grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and his significant other for 10 years, Diane Mansfield.

Donations may be made to the Will Rogers Foundation or the Motion Picture Television Fund.