Robert E. Burgess


(July 8, 2004)

Memorial services for Robert E. Burgess, 77, of Estes Park, Colo., were held Thursday, July 8 at Estes Valley Memorial Gardens. He died Saturday, July 3 at the Estes Park Medical Center after a three-year battle with cancer.

He was born Nov. 12, 1926, in Dallas, Texas. His parents were William Ewell and Thelma (Porter) Burgess. His father died of pneumonia March 25, 1931 when Bob was 5 years old. His mother moved to Colorado to be closer to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Curran Porter, who lived in Estes Park. She opened The Old Plantation restaurant in December 1931 and married C. Warren Chapman in December 1932.

Bob began working at the restaurant at an early age pitting cherries for the homemade cherry pies. He worked as a bus boy and later as a host. In 1962, he assumed the position of chef. Bob and his brother, Bill, were co-owners of the restaurant for 22 years. Bob and his wife Janet owned the restaurant from 1979 until their retirement in October 1992.

Mr. Burgess attended grade school in Greeley through the fourth grade. From fifth grade through high school he attended Estes Park schools. In May 1945, his mother received his high school diploma as Bob had entered the U.S. Navy in November, 1944 as soon a he was 18. The school board considered his boot training to be equivalent to his senior year of high school. He served proudly aboard the U.S.S. Kalinin Bay, a small carrier, as a radar man until the ship was decommissioned at the end of World War II.

He used the G.I. Bill to further his education. He graduated from Denver University in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration majoring in Hotel/Restaurant Management. He was in the first graduating class of the H/R Management School at DU. Besides working summers at his parent's restaurant in Estes Park, he worked winters at country clubs in Phoenix, was manager of the coffee shop at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Denver, which no longer exists, and was manager of the Greeley Country Club.

On July 26, 1956 he married Janet Rae Bovee of Powell, in his mother's home. Two daughters were born to this union: Elizabeth Diane and Nancy Jayne.

Mr. Burgess was a workaholic. For many years he closed the door of the Plantation at the end of the season one day and started working for the Graves Gas Company the next day. He was appreciative that Clarence "Pop" Graves gave him a job every winter.

Bob loved Estes Park and never wanted to live anywhere else. He served as treasurer for the chamber of commerce. He was a deputy sheriff for Larimer County, a volunteer job. He was elected to the Town Council three times and served 10 years as a trustee from 1972 to 1982. He was appointed to serve on the Draft Board (Selective Service System) Local Board No. 4, Colorado and fulfilled this duty for numerous years. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge for almost 50 years. He was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star serving as Worthy Patron from 1968-1969. He was a Grand Escort for his wife while she was Grand Chaplain for the Grand Chapter of Colorado, OES, 1969-1970.

He loved to read - many subjects - and acquired a sizable library, including a large number of books on World War II. He had a life membership in the National Rifle Association of America. He belonged to the Classic Car Club of America for many years.

After retirement, traveling became a new hobby, with visits to England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Egypt, Mexico, Canada, Alaska and Hawaii.

Bob enjoyed attending his U.S.S. Kalinin Bay reunions. He attended nine reunions starting in 1991 in San Antonio and to the most recent one in Las Vegas in May 2004.

Mr. Burgess was preceded in death by his parents and his stepfather.

He is survived by his wife Janet of Estes Park, his daughters, Elizabeth Eggert (Bill) of Centennial, Colo., and Nancy Burgess of West Hollywood, Calif.; three grandchildren, Robert Burgess Normali (14) of West Hollywood, Calif., Endsley Kells Eggert (12) and Andrew Chapman Eggert (10) of Centennial, Colo. Also surviving is his brother, William E. Burgess (Harriet) of Estes Park; sister-in-law Dolores Bleekman (George) of Granite Bay, Calif., three nieces and three nephews: Deborah Burgess Richardson of Estes Park, Virginia L. Burgess of Casa Grande, Ariz., Kirstin Bleekman Wallingford of Roseville, Calif., William Burgess, III (Renee) of Durango, Colo., Dell Bleekman (Susan) of New York, New York.; and nine great nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to Cancer, Diabetes or Arthritis Foundations in care of Allnutt Funeral Service, 1302 Graves Avenue, Estes Park, Colo. 80517.