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Fred McPherson Burdette Jr.

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DECEMBER 22, 2009

Fred McPherson Burdette, Jr., born September 21, 1917, to Ellen Martin and Fred Burdette, Sr., spent his first 14 years on a beautiful farm near Pelser, SC, where his family grew cotton. First came the boll weevil in the 20's, then came the Depression in the 30's and the family lost the farm. The new home had no indoor plumbing and Fred became the designated water boy; he carried all the fresh water into the house and all the waste water out. In addition to giving him a strong work ethic, carrying all that water developed his physique and character; he also became a life-long water conservationist well before it was fashionable.

Fred loved vegetable gardening, especially growing tomatoes. He always said, "Farming is a pleasure, as long as you don't have to depend on it to make a living." Those years on the farm developed his most basic traits, hard work, frugality, practicality, and observation.

Fred graduated from the Citadel and The Medical College of South Carolina during the 30s. He was known for his calm, even temperament, but there were rumors of a hot temper in his youth. Although no one ever got the full story, Fred, who was a lieutenant his junior year at the Citadel, graduated as a private.

Fred spent the war years as a Navy flight surgeon in the Pacific theater.

He met Frances Brown when he was 17 but took a while to close the deal. He married her at 25. Fred and Frances lived in Southport, NC, and reared 4 children. They were married 46 years. He nursed her when she was dying of ovarian cancer 22 years ago. He spent the last 10 days of his life searching for her once again.

His parents valued an education above all else - he did, too. His education freed him from depending on his role as a human aqueduct on the farm. He gave all his children a college education, independence of thought, a dry wit, and the best advice ever for child-rearing, "You just have to get them over FOOL'S HILL!"

He was loyal to his friends, his golf game, and gin rummy. Particularly proud of his 2 hole-in-ones, he was also known to boast that he had never bought a golf ball. He was an excellent putter and chipper. With his friends, he enjoyed a shrimp cocktail, a dry martini and a laugh.

Conscientious in his medical practice and in the care for his patients, he was physician, surgeon, and obstetrician - proud of delivering over 3,000 babies. He was the rare physician who continued to make house calls until his retirement in 1985.

Fred loved quietly with little demonstration -- a trait some failed to notice. His ingrained frugality did not overcome a generous heart and he frequently and readily assisted his community, his alma mater, his profession and his family.

Fred was wise and observant of both nature and human nature, which is why he was an excellent physician. Fred was a stoic, he neither complained nor criticized but possessed a wicked sense of humor with which he frequently amused his companions and the staff at Springmoor - his home for the last 6 years.

The family is deeply appreciative of the care and attention given Fred (and all the residents of Springmoor); special thanks to Angelita, Luke, and Lily for their love and care.

Fred is survived by his 4 children and their spouses, his daughters, Mary Pat and Rusty Navins of Wellesley, MA; Jean and Jim Blaine of Wilton, NC; and sons, Fred and Cardy Burdette of Columbus, GA; John and Fran Burdette of Chillicothe, OH.; 15 grandchildren and 10 great-grand children.

A graveside service will be held Saturday, January 9, 2010, at Oleander Memorial Gardens at 2:00 PM in Wilmington, NC. The family requests, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to Boys and Girls Homes of NC.

Online condolences at

Published in the Wilmington Star-News on Jan. 7, 2010
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