Gary Burgess, who served as the Myers facility manager and has worked at Rose-Hulman for 36 years, passed away Sunday night in his sleep at the age of 66. A valued and loved member of the Rose community, Burgess received the President’s Award and the Alumni Award for his service to the school. An Indiana State graduate, he served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and owned his own company, Burgess Marine, for 20 years. Burgess was also advisor to the Pi Kappa Alpha chapter at Rose for many years. Although he fought lung cancer in the last five years of his life, he never retired and continued to commit his time and effort to Rose.
“Gary was an exceptional friend, I never thought of him as someone I supervised but rather as someone with whom I shared my time at Rose,” electrical engineering professor and Pike chapter adviser Dr. Dan Moore said. Dr. Moore and Burgess both had offices in Myers and spent much of their time together.
“I doubt you could find anyone on or off campus who knew Gary who would say something negative about him,” Dr. Moore said. “I think the only people who he would not consider as a friend were those people he had not met.”
Rose’s campus and its students were touched countless times by his dedication to the school and its people. According to Moore, Burgess was “completely focused on helping people succeed.” He loved working with students, faculty, and staff and helping people build projects, parts and prototypes with results that often surpassed students’ expectations. Not only was he an expert in engineering design, but he also enjoyed woodworking in his free time and recycled wood from old trees on campus into benches, tables, and displays.
“One only need visit White Chapel to see the furniture Gary handmade to understand the extent of his talent,” Senior Director of Facilities Operations and Pike adviser Michael Taylor said.
“Rose is a better place because of his working here and those of us who knew him are better people. Because of that, he will be greatly missed,” Dr. Moore said.
In addition to his contributions to the school, Burgess served as a chapter advisor to Pike for 16 years and sat as member of its Housing Corporation for over a decade. He was always helping fix problems on the chapter grounds, was a mentor to his brothers, and was an invaluable leader to the chapter.
“The Pikes are going to miss one of their big supporters,” Dr. Bill Eccles, retired electrical engineering professor and former Pike adviser wrote. “I am going to miss one of my best friends.”
Burgess was diagnosed with lung cancer 5 years ago – with 6 months left to live. Dr. Moore said without doubt that he was able to hold out for so long because of his “dedication to Rose and his love of his job.”
“He was a fighter and his family and Rose provided him the strength for his battle against the cancer,” Dr. Moore said.
The funeral will be held at the Callahan-DeBaun Funeral Home today at 1:30 p.m., and Burgess will be buried with military honors. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that friends give contributions to the Lung Cancer Foundation of America.
“Gary had a vast understanding of how people interact with their surroundings. He had a solid understanding of buildings and systems. Gary had a zest for life and had a variety of interests. He could relate to people in many ways and on many levels,” Taylor said, who was a close personal friend to Burgess. “I could continue on with more glowing accounts of Gary, but will instead simply say that I really do think the world of him and I will miss him dearly.”

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