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David S. Burgess


1917 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Burgess, David S.
David S. Burgess, long-time resident of Peoria, AZ, died in his sleep at his Desert Winds home on May 29. He is survived by his daughters: Bonnie Adele and her husband Mike, and Susan Elizabeth and her partner Steve, and by his granddaughter, Jean Elizabeth. Born on a dairy farm to Alfred W. Burgess and Emily F. Meyer in Pawling, New York in 1917, he was the youngest of three brothers. He majored in chemistry and graduated as valedictorian at Hamilton College in 1936. He went on to complete his PhD in physical chemistry at Brown University in 1940 at the age of 23. During World War II, he worked at the Naval Research Labs in Washington, D.C. He met and married Evelyn Margaret McKenzie in 1943, and they had three daughters including Barbara Jean, deceased. In 1947, he moved to Arkansas where he taught chemistry at the University of Arkansas. In 1952, he accepted a position with the Bureau of Mines in Pittsburgh, PA as a chemist, specializing in combustion and mine safety. His work involved investigating and testifying about explosions and he was extensively published by the Bureau and the Journal of the American Chemical Society. He and Evelyn divorced in 1962 and David left the Bureau briefly to work for Thiokol in New Jersey. It was there that he met and married Theresa (Tess) Van Dok to whom he remained married for 48 years. He returned to the Bureau of Mines and completed his career there, retiring in 1979. David and Tess traveled extensively - to Japan, China, Israel, Egypt - and they enjoyed hiking in Canada and the United States. As he and Tess were thinking about where to retire, a couple of happy coincidences led to them to settle in Sun City in 1980. David developed a passion for genealogy which accelerated after they began summering in Logan, Utah, near the Latter Day Saints Family History Library in Salt Lake City. David began his research there and over the next two decades, he scoured church records in England and Switzerland and created hand-lettered pedigree charts dating back many generations. David also volunteered for the Sun City Prides, Reading for the Blind and the Food Bank and played golf. David and Tess spent their last years at retirement communities in Peoria. Tess died in 2011. David's memorial will be held at 11:00 a.m. June 17 at Desert Winds Assisted Living, 20545 N. Lake Pleasant Road, Peoria, AZ. Donations in David's honor may be made to Sun City Talking News, Recorded Recreational Reading for the Blind, 9447 N. 99th Avenue, Peoria, AZ 85345. Please visit www.sunlandmemorial.com to share condolence messages with the family.
Published in The Arizona Republic on June 5, 2016
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