Amherst Magazine
JOHN TOWNSEND BURGESS ’42

John T. (Jack) Burgess died on January 25, 2009, in Jacksonville, Fla.

Jack was born in New York City and grew up in Jamaica, Long Island. He graduated from St. Paul’s School in Garden City in 1938 before entering Amherst College.

At Amherst, Jack majored in economics, graduating cum laude, and was involved in a number of activities. He was a member of the Alpha Theta Xi fraternity and was active in cross country and track. He was also a member of the Christian Association, Outing Club, Flying Club, International Relations Club and was assistant treasurer of The Student. During his senior year, he took flying lessons at Turners Falls Airport, earning his flying license.

After graduation, he entered the U.S.N.R. V-7 Midshipman School at Notre Dame and was commissioned an ensign in September 1942. He served aboard mine sweepers in the Mediterranean until June 1944, when he returned to the U.S. on leave to marry his college sweetheart, Ruth D. Honaman, a Smith College graduate. After subchaser training in Miami, he was sent to Guam in the Pacific and was honorably discharged as a lieutenant in December of 1945.

For the next 25 years, Jack worked for General Electric. The first few years were in Schenectady where two daughters were born. Then came a transfer to Cincinnati where a son joined the family. After eight years in Louisville, it was back to Schenectady where Jack became a consultant in information systems and an expert on computers. His final transfer was to company headquarters in New York City, a period when the family lived in nearby Connecticut.

After retiring from G.E. in 1971, Jack started his own business, Burgess Advisory Reports, which published stock market analyses and recommendations. In 1978, he started a computer service bureau, Todd Service Corporation, which used computers to design executive compensation plans for such Fortune 500 companies as G.E., 3M and Morgan Guaranty Trust. During all of these moves, Jack was an active member of the Episcopal Church.

In 1986, Ruth, who had been teaching high school English for 17 years, and Jack retired to Osprey, Fla., just south of Sarasota on the Gulf of Mexico. There they indulged their mutual interests in sailing, bridge, swimming, travel and assorted volunteer activities. In 1995, they moved to Cypress Village, a retirement community in Jacksonville, where they continued their lifelong interest in travel.

After retiring from business, Jack was active in Amherst alumni affairs, serving as an associate agent for the Alumni Fund and attending a number of alumni functions. He is survived by Ruth, his wife of more than 64 years; daughters Barbara Wolfe and Betsy Burgess; son John T. Burgess Jr.; and five grandchildren, one of whom, Emily R. Mace, was in the Class of 2000 at Amherst.

—Ted Heisler ’42

 

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