School 08

Hugh Burgess

May 1, 1946 ~ November 8, 2022 (age 76)

Obituary

With broken hearts, we are announcing the death of our Dad, George Ewart Burgess, known to most of you as Hugh Burgess.  He died at The Pines Long Term Care Home in the early hours of Tuesday November 8th, surrounded with love from his children, the staff members who have become part of his family over the past two years, and the spirit of our Mom, who has been waiting patiently (or maybe not so patiently) for him to join her. Dad lived in Ontario his entire life.  He was born and raised on a 148 acre farm in Woodstock, in the area now known as Burgess Park, with his sisters Frances, Elgina, Gene and Eleanor, to his parents Frederick Erastus Burgess and Winnifred Muriel Foster.  He had a standout athletic career at Woodstock Collegiate Institute, where he starred in football, basketball, volleyball and track and field.  After a couple of detours in a meat packing plant, a tire rim production plant, and playing some fastball with the Woodstock Flat Tires, he finished high school and married Mary Lynne Smith.  He followed his marriage with a move to Waterloo to attend university at Waterloo Lutheran (now Wilfred Laurier) in the Faculty of Education.  He then took that education and moved to Parry Sound with his growing family to begin his lifelong work as a teacher and mentor.  He began his career as a special education teacher.  The students he saw in his program reminded him of himself when he was young and in the same position.  He wanted his students to feel valued and that they could be successful, even if school wasn’t their strong point.  He knew from experience that getting the best out of students who struggled required the same approach as getting the best out of people - coach them by setting expectations, offering support as they worked towards the expectations, and troubleshooting with different paths if the first approach wasn’t working. He continued to develop within his career, taking the courses to become an elementary school principal.  His first principalship was at Whitestone Lake Public School, then he moved on to MacTier Public School.  They were both places and teams of educators and staff that he spoke fondly of, despite some of the difficult circumstances that he walked into.  He then made the jump to secondary school and became Vice-principal at Parry Sound High School, where he finished his career as an educator and mentor to the kids who were square pegs in round holes.  Those who spent much time with him will remember his relaxed demeanour, his ability to see all sides of a story, and his unending capacity for kindness.  He was a man ahead of his time, and it came from lessons he learned on the roads less travelled. The way he was away from school was much the same as you saw him at school - kind, relaxed, caring, and involved.  He was an amazing cook - he loved to BBQ homemade burgers over charcoal, and was a huge resistor to converting to a propane BBQ - he felt it was somehow cheating. Every year we looked forward to his turkey soup after Thanksgiving, his ‘whatever is in the cupboards’ chili through the winter, and his fried egg sandwiches on weekend mornings.  Despite his resistance to converting to propane to cook on a BBQ, he was an early adopter of technology in his classroom and at home - he brought the newest computer in his classroom home on weekends to introduce us to the future and we had the first CD player that we knew of on our street.  He may have even been as good as the kids at the Atari games we had! When working was done, he and Mom retired to their dream home – a cottage on Ahmic Lake that they called Diamond Haven.  Here, Dad tended the yard, danced with Mom, sat back in his beach chair and faced the sun, and loved to host his grandchildren - reading to them, cooking for them, taking them berry picking, and napping with them. Dad is survived by his 3 loving children and their partners: Jordan (Keri); Leslie; David (Lisa), his 6 grandchildren: Owen & Rhys; Kyle & Eva; Alden & Isla, who will miss Papa’s kind heart and big, long hugs.  He has joined his soulmate and the rest of his sisters, whom have all passed before him, and are sure to be having a huge party right now. Words can’t describe the very deep thanks we feel towards the staff at The Pines Long Term Care Home.  They have been his constant caregivers and his everyday companions for the last two years, and they felt pain just like we did when he left us.  They were an unbelievable source of support during his palliative stage, and we can’t express enough gratitude towards them for what they offered to us and to our Dad in his final days. If desired, donations in Dad’s memory to The Pines Support Committee will go to help other families who require dementia and end of life care, and will be appreciated by all of us, and all of the staff at The Pines who provide such outstanding care for their residents, or www.thefriends.on.ca  


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