Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, Gary Burgess lived a life of purpose while holding his loved ones near. He was kindhearted and genuine wth a desire to make the world around him a better place. A loving husband and devoted father, Gary was so proud to witness his family tree blossom to include the grandchildren and great-grandchildren who were a priceless treasure. A hardworking man, he accomplished so much to be proud of, but he was a humble man who lived to love and serve others. Deeply loved, Gary will be forever missed.
The 1930s brought us some of the most trying days we have ever faced as the entire decade was cloaked in the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, which left cities, communities, and families to do whatever they could to weather the storm. Despite the trials around them, Donald and Agnes (Balzer) Burgess were able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their own lives as they were eagerly anticipating the birth of their new baby as January dawned in Hartford City, Indiana, in 1934. The big day finally arrived on January 14th when the baby boy they named Gary Robert drew his first breath. He was the younger of two Burgess children as he was raised in the family home alongside his older brother, Donald. Gary’s father supported his family by delivering heating oil to customers in the county while his mother was a housewife. Gary attended Saint John's Riedman Memorial School, a Catholic grade school in Hartford City and went on to graduate from Hartford City High School.
He loved buying and selling cars as he bought at least one every year. All of the salesmen at the car dealerships in Winter Haven knew him by name and rushed over to help him whenever he stopped in because they knew he was a buyer. He usually succeeded in cajoling a free cup of coffee, a doughnut or a hot dog out of them while he was there. Gary knew how to make a nice profit when he sold cars as well. He also rebuilt old cars as a hobby.
New and exciting changes were in store for Gary when he met the young girl who would forever hold the key to his heart. Her name was Susan L. Hibbard, and she was attending Ball Hospital School of Nursing in nearby Muncie, Indiana, at the time. They began dating and soon found themselves in love. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Gary and Susan were married in her hometown of Niles, Michigan, on April 23, 1955. Together they welcomed three children including Jeff, Charles, and Donna into their hearts and home. In 1959 Gary moved his family to Portage, Michigan, when he took a job opportunity with the Union Camp Corporation in Kalamazoo. He made his entire career there until retiring. Later in life Gary was filled with unspeakable joy to become a grandfather to six grandchildren who also blessed him with four great-grandchildren during his sunset years. On April 25, 1994, his life was forever changed when he lost his beloved wife, Susan. It was shortly thereafter that Gary retired.
Throughout his life Gary was a man of many interests. For as long as his health allowed, he loved golfing. As his family and friends can attest, Gary was an avid Notre Dame football fan. Within his community he was an active member of the Portage Jaycees and participated in their efforts to have Portage incorporated as a city in 1963. In 1997, he moved to Winter Haven, Florida, and in 2016 he moved to San Antonio, Texas.
All who knew Gary Burgess would agree that he was an extraordinary man to know and love. He was never one to worry about the things of this world, rather, his focus was on blessing the lives of all who were near. Gary was deeply devoted to the family he shared with the love of his life. Although he will be forever missed, he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.
Gary Robert Burgess passed away in San Antonio, TX, on January 23, 2017. Gary’s family includes his three children: Jeffrey of Tempe, AZ, Charles of Kalamazoo, and Donna (Rafko) of San Antonio; six grandchildren; and four great grandchildren. Gary was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Donald. Visit with family and friends on Sunday, January 29th from 4:00 - 7:00 at the Life Story Funeral Home, Portage; 5975 Lovers Lane (344-5600). A funeral service will be held on Monday, January 30 at 11:00 at the same location. Please visit www. lifestorynet.com where you can archive a memory or photo and sign his memory book online.