Deceased July 22, 2018
Kenneth James Burchfiel Jr. died on July 22 of cancer.
After graduating from Cornell Law School, Kenneth had a distinguished career as a patent lawyer with the Washington, D.C., firm of Sughrue Mion. His expertise was biotechnology.
Kenneth retired to Sante Fe, N.M., in 2017. He enjoyed trips with his wife and children. He was an avid photographer and fly-fisherman.
At Amherst, Kenneth was a classics major. He was fascinated by the intricacies of Latin and ancient Greek. For his senior photo in the Amherst yearbook, he even posed wearing a toga. His interest in the classics continued, as shown by the fact that he took a sabbatical year, in the midst of his legal career, to study ancient Greek legal thought at the Max Planck Institute in Munich.
Kenneth attended high school in what was then the U.S. Canal Zone in Panama. I first met Kenneth at the bus station in Springfield, Mass., as we were both heading to start classes at Amherst. I was coming from Colorado, and he was coming from Panama. He was dressed in tropical whites and wearing a straw Panamanian hat. During that freshman year, we became friends and then were roommates at Phi Gamma Chi for the next three years. Kenneth was always up for an adventure, like the time he suggested that we hitchhike to Manhattan one weekend to visit a high school friend of his at Cooper Union. We made it there and back, with one of our rides actually being in a VW mini bus with hippies who were smoking pot. After Kenneth’s father gave him a car during sophomore year, we didn’t have to hitchhike. After we both turned age 21, we regularly drove out of town for a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer at a tavern on the Belchertown road.
Kenneth suggested that we go cook lobsters on the beach in Maine. We even borrowed a pot from the kitchen at Valentine Hall. Neither of us had ever been to Maine, but off we went with two young ladies from Smith College. This was long before GPS. It was dark by the time we got to a beach that had public access, and we had no lobsters, but a good time was had by all.
We went together to the big anti-war protest on the mall in D.C. I’ll never forget walking across the bridge to the Lincoln Memorial, each with a lit candle. Then we read into a microphone the name of a deceased soldier and extinguished the candle.
Kenneth is survived by his wife, Linda, and children Nellie and Ken.
Charles Unfug ’73