David Edward Burpee, an economist who was Director of Renewable and Electrical Energy at Natural Resources Canada, died Monday, June 2, of heart failure. He was sixty-six. David came from a deeply rooted Ottawa family. His great uncle Lawrence Johnston Burpee was a noted scholar and historian who served for twenty years as Secretary for Canada of the International Joint Commission, and was Canada's representative on the League of Nations. He received the Tyrell Medal from the Royal Society of Canada for outstanding work in historical research. David's grandfather Lewis Arthur Burpee, whose own father died while he was still in primary school, began his career at the age of twelve as sole support of his mother and sister. One of his early jobs was as a delivery boy for Ogilvy's, a company he went on to lead, in time, as its President. Lewis volunteered as a medic in the First World War. Both of his sons served in WWII. His eldest son Lewis Johnston Burpee piloted a suicide mission, Operation Chastise, which was an attack on German dams implemented in 1943, later called the Dam Busters. Lewis' second son Matthew Orme Burpee, David's father, served the last year of the war in the navy, after attending Guelph University where he majored in agricultural studies. He went on to purchase a farm in Perth, where David and his sister Sandra were born. The house David grew up in there is now an historical landmark. David went to York University in 1967, where he studied under the influential economist and former Greek Prime Minister, Andreas Papandreou. He was an honors student, taking his masters in political economics. David joined the Canadian Public Service in 1972, in the Department of Environment. In 1975 he became part of the Department of Natural Resources. He was instrumental in creating Canadian policy in the areas of electrical energy and energy trade. Central in the development of the Electricity Reliability Organization, departmental lead on the Canada-U.S. Power System Outage Task Force, David also has also many accomplishments in the development of hydro power in Newfoundland, Labrador and British Columbia. "David embodied the best qualities of a leader in the federal public service. He was extremely knowledgeable, respected by his colleagues and staff. David was a warm, kind and loving person who trusted and empowered all of his employees. He will be remembered for his sharp wit and intelligence," were the comments of his colleagues. In the last months of his life, David traveled to his vacation home in Florida to spend the late winter and spring. While there he played tennis and ran on the beach, socialized with friends, reported having a wonderful time. He died quietly in his home a few days after his return. David is survived and will be greatly missed by his daughter and son in- law, Nicole and Orion Kelly, granddaughter Tate Kelly, and his sister Sandra Burns. Friends and family are invited to visit the Central Chapel of Hulse, Playfair & McGarry, 315 McLeod Street, Ottawa on Saturday, June 21st from 10:30 am to 11:30 am, follow by a Funeral Service in the Chapel at 11:30 am. Interment at Beechwood Cemetery. Donations may be made to the Heart & Stroke Foundation.
Published in The Ottawa Citizen on June 14, 2014